ELBERT CUENCA and LIZA ILARDE

ELBERT, PRES­I­DENT AND CEO OF STEAK ROOM CON­CEPTS, AND LIZA, FASH­ION AND BEAUTY EDI­TOR AT MANILA BUL­LETIN, CHAT WITH MAN­ICA C. TIGLAO ABOUT MEM­O­RABLE MEALS, THEIR HOPES FOR MANILA, AND CEL­E­BRAT­ING THEIR 20TH AN­NIVER­SARY.

Town & Country (Philippines) - - A TOWN & COUNTRY LIFE - Pro­duced by Ca­role Cuasay-Ta­gle Pho­to­graphs by Dix Perez

WHAT TIME DID YOU WAKE UP TO­DAY? ELBERT: 5:30 a.m. to bike. LIZA: Early! it’s my birth­day to­day and i’m leav­ing for ger­many.

WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU DO WHEN YOU WAKE UP?

E: i pre­pare my break­fast— an espresso and a pas­try.

L: hug the dog. then the hus­band! my morn­ing rit­ual starts with oil pulling, which takes 20 min­utes. i have to have break­fast even if it’s just cof­fee and a crois­sant. but al­ways cof­fee—black.

HOW DO YOU AP­PROACH DRESS­ING FOR THE DAY?

E: it re­ally all de­pends on the day’s sched­ule and what i’ll be do­ing, both morn­ing and evening. i try to dress just once, although the oc­ca­sional dressy evening af­fair will prompt me to bring a change of clothes.

L: i’m not one of those peo­ple who plans her out­fit the night be­fore. it de­pends on my mood, where i’m go­ing, what i’ll be do­ing, and if i’m feel­ing fat!

FA­VORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB? E: my job doesn’t have a

reg­u­lar sched­ule. Ev­ery day is dif­fer­ent and i deal with dif­fer­ent peo­ple.

L: trav­el­ing to new des­ti­na­tions to do fash­ion shoots or in­ter­view in­ter­est­ing peo­ple. LEAST FA­VORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB? E: go­ing through traf­fic when mov­ing be­tween restau­rant out­lets. L: dead­lines!

YOU BOTH PLAY A PART IN SHAP­ING MANILA CUL­TURE. WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR THE RE­SPEC­TIVE IN­DUS­TRIES THAT YOU WORK IN, AND FOR MANILA?

E: i re­ally wish for metro manila to be iden­ti­fied a din­ing des­ti­na­tion. we need to do what we can to el­e­vate the stan­dards and de­velop our palates.

L: they say print is dead, so i want to pro­duce con­tent that will en­gage read­ers and make them want to pick up the pa­per ev­ery fri­day, when my sec­tion comes out.

FA­VORITE CLOTH­ING LA­BELS AND WHY?

E: uniqlo be­cause it is the eas­i­est way to shop, and the clothes are ba­sic and not trendy. Of­ten­times i don’t even bother fit­ting. ul­ti­mately, it’s paul smith that’s my fa­vorite. if i could af­ford it, i’d prob­a­bly be in head-to-toe paul smith ev­ery day.

L: i don’t have a fa­vorite, i like them all.

SHOES?

E: right now, i’m lik­ing bata, but i re­ally pre­fer to be wear­ing a pair of adi­das ul­tra boosts.

L: in the last cou­ple of years, i’ve been wear­ing heels less, and flats more. lately, i love mules.

WATCh?

E: se­ries 3 ap­ple watch. L: i don’t like wear­ing a watch, but i have a fit­bit, which i al­ways for­get to wear.

DO YOU hAvE A sIg­NA­TURE AC­CEs­sORY?

E: my leather man-bag which i col­lab­o­rated with fino leather­ware to de­sign.

L: not re­ally an ac­ces­sory, but peo­ple know me for my prints.

FA­VORITE SCENT?

E: Clin­ique happy for men and bul­gari blv pour homme.

L: i love the smell of my dog af­ter he’s had a bath. i find it so re­lax­ing. WHAT’S ON YOUR SHOP­PING WISHLIST? E: a vespa scooter (wait­ing for wife ap­proval).

FA­VORITE DE­SIGN­ERS AND SHOPS?

E: paul smith. L: when­ever i’m abroad, i make it a point to en­ter COs, gucci, tar­get, and ikea. i don’t nec­es­sar­ily buy any­thing, i just like to look.

HOW DO YOU STAY IN SHAPE?

E: i bike at least 300 km a month.

L: brisk walk­ing for 30 min­utes ev­ery morn­ing by the bay.

DREAM DIN­NER GUESTS?

E: an­thony bour­dain, thomas keller, Jen­son but­ton, Jony ive.

L: fam­ily mem­bers who have sadly passed away. how i would love to catch up with them.

EN­TER­TAIN­ING STA­PLES?

E: mu­sic, and it has to be soft din­ner jazz.

L: a case each of red and white wine!

DE­SCRIBE YOUR HOME.

E: Eclec­tic and high tech. Cozy and func­tional.

L: my sis­ter once said that it’s dec­o­rated the way i dress—that means eclec­tic pieces that i love and don’t nec­es­sar­ily go to­gether. it’s def­i­nitely not “in­te­rior de­signed.” WHAT MAG­A­ZINES AND WEB­SITES DO YOU READ REG­U­LARLY? E: lucky Peach mag­a­zine, and a lot of face­book. L: i read Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Domino. On­line, busi­ness of fash­ion and wwd.

WhAT bOOks ARE ON YOUR COF­FEE TA­bLE?

L: Rare Bird of Fash­ion: The Ir­rev­er­ent Iris Apfel, Fash­ion­able Filip­inas: An Evo­lu­tion of the Philip­pine Na­tional Dress in Pho­to­graphs 1860-1960, Kate Spade New York: Things We Love, and Pat­tern, by Orla Kiely. E: None of the above are mine.

WHAT MU­SIC IS ON YOUR PLAYLIST?

A lot of Steely Dan.

NAME ONE POS­I­TIVE THING THAT HAP­PENED TO­DAY. E: I woke up. L: I got a birth­day up­grade on my Emi­rates flight!

FA­VORITE RESTAU­RANTS?

E: Per Se for the ex­pe­ri­ence, Le Bernardin for the food, and, of course, Elbert’s Steak Room. WHERE ARE YOU TRAV­EL­ING TO THIS YEAR? E: We are go­ing to Siar­gao. We’ve never been there. YOU JUST MARKED YOUR 20TH AN­NIVER­SARY. HOW DID YOU CEL­E­BRATE? We had a free-flow­ing party with our friends at Elbert’s Riedel Room on a Saturday, and a quiet in­ti­mate din­ner on Sun­day with close friends and rel­a­tives.

ANY GIFTS FOR EACH OTHER?

E: We don’t nor­mally give each other gifts, but for my flight back from Ger­many, Elbert told me he’d pay for my up­grade on the A380—it was my first time on that plane!

In onE worD, DE­scrIbE thE LAst 20 yEArs to­gEthEr. E: Epic. L: Fun.

FA­VORITE MEM­ORY OF BE­ING TO­GETHER? You’re ask­ing the im­pos­si­ble.

WHAT Do you thInk mAkEs you two cLIck? E: We’re both Aquar­i­ans.

L: More than just lov­ing each other, we gen­uinely like each other. We like to hang out to­gether, just the two of us.

SIG­NA­TURE DRINK? E: Any­thing with al­co­hol. L: cham­pagne.

WHAT WOULD YOUR LAST MEAL ON EARTH BE? E&L: A steak.

MOST MEM­O­RABLE MEAL?

E: Per Se in New York with Liza. I re­mem­ber the ex­pe­ri­ence, but I for­get what we ate.

WHAT DO YOU DO AND WHERE DO YOU GO TO UN­WIND?

We have a re­lax­ing din­ner at Elbert’s Steak Room, or just put up our feet and pour our­selves a drink at home. CAUSES YOU ARE PAS­SION­ATE ABOUT? E: Or­phaned kids. L: the en­vi­ron­ment. I was green be­fore it be­came a thing. Even if we don’t have any kids, I think about what kind of world we’ll be leav­ing fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

WHAT’S YOUR IDEA OF A PER­FECT DAY?

E: hav­ing ac­com­plished at least three ma­jor things.

L: Be­ing on a beach with fam­ily, breath­ing in the fresh air, and just drink­ing and chat­ting all day.

GUILTY PLEA­SURES? E: KFc.

L: Munch­ing on Dori­tos or chee­tos in­stead of hav­ing a proper din­ner. BIG­GEST CHAL­LENGE YOU’VE HAD TO OVER­COME? E: Los­ing my busi­ness and hav­ing no means of in­come af­ter.

BEST DE­CI­SION EVER MADE? E: Mar­ry­ing Liza.

BIG­GEST MIS­TAKE OF YOUR LIFE? E: Not mar­ry­ing her sooner.

PET PEEVES?

E: “Sir, do you have a smaller bill?”

L: When peo­ple don’t use a per­fectly func­tion­ing flush in a pub­lic re­stroom.

BEST PIECE OF AD­VICE RE­CEIVED? E: “Stay hun­gry. Stay fool­ish.”—Steve jobs.

VAL­UES YOU AP­PRE­CI­ATE MOST IN A PART­NER?

E: I ap­pre­ci­ate that she is grounded and there­fore keeps me grounded as well.

L: Be­ing trust­wor­thy.

WHAT TIME ARE YOU GO­ING TO SLEEP?

E: hope­fully be­fore 10 p.m., so that I can get up early to bike. More of­ten than not, I’ll be in bed past mid­night.

L: Def­i­nitely not be­fore mid­night!

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO DREAM ABOUT?

E: A bet­ter world, where ev­ery­one is happy.

L: Our plans for 2018 and be­yond.

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