A Spoon-ful of fun

STAR BYTES - Butch Francisco () - November 5, 2009 - 12:00am

I enjoy appearing as guest in other programs. It’s not all about the talent fee because these don’t pay much (at least in my case). I accept guest commitments because these could be fun and different from what we do in Startalk.

To begin with, it’s easier and more relaxed for me to be just a guest in a show rather than be the host because you have more responsibilities to carry on your shoulders. As host, you have to drive and maneuver your segment. But as guest, there is no pressure. Things can go wrong and you’re out of there by the next episode.

Sometimes, you do well and get absorbed as a regular in the show. This was what happened in the game show Now Na (hosted by Arnell Ignacio) some three years ago. I kept winning that they made me a regular — until I had to quit half a year later because taping schedule was done Tuesdays, which is when I sit in the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB) where we grade films to determine if these are worthy of tax rebates.

Aside from game shows, there were three occasions when I tried singing (badly) in All-Star K where the farthest I got was second place to Rufa Mae Quinto. And, oh, I’ve tried soap operas, too, where I charge more than usual because of the waiting game (if your call-time is at 6 p.m., expect to roll at 6 a.m. of the following day). But mostly, I guest in other talk shows where I don’t have to worry about the flow of the on-cam conversations since that is the responsibility of the regular host of the program.

But with due respect, to all programs that had invited me as guest, I have to say that they have yet to match what they do in Spoon, the Net 25 cooking show hosted by Janice de Belen and I’m writing about this as my pre-birthday tribute to her (she turns a year wiser on Nov. 9).

My Spoon guest appearance was actually a year in the making. Since they also tape Tuesdays, I had to constantly decline the invitation. When it finally happened, I was still reeling from jetlag and was all zonked out when I showed up at their very fancy studio inside the vast Iglesia ni Cristo compound along Commonwealth Avenue. Me being me, I got lost trying to get there, but they patiently waited.

The royal treatment begins as soon as you get off your vehicle. Despite the fact that I wasn’t in the best of moods that time (I was tired and sleepy), I got perked up because of the politeness and genuine niceness of the show’s staff. But what really made me forget about the stress of getting lost was when Janice welcomed me and we hugged warmly.

I cannot claim that Janice and I are close friends (I don’t even have her number), but we go back a long way (during one of the Mayon eruptions and we had to distribute relief goods). Even if I don’t see her often, I could open up to her and tell her stories about what I’ve been doing and she listens. Yes, that’s one of her great strengths as host of Sis and especially Spoon — she knows how to listen.

More importantly, she knows how to put a guest at ease. Initially, part of my reluctance to appear in Spoon was due to my lack of cooking skills. The only dish I can do well is my overstuffed omelet. I may have boasted about that in my Julie & Julia review the other day, but in my heart I knew something could still go wrong along the way (burn the studio is the worst case scenario). However, I’ve always felt secure with Janice around and I knew she would be there to guide me.

So how did I do my omelet? First I had to make French fries (that’s what makes this egg dish of mine different from the others). But even with that I had a problem because the potatoes wouldn’t brown and turn crisp the way it should be.

Janice told me to relax and be patient. Meanwhile, we conversed on the air and let’s admit it, Spoon is actually a talk show masquerading as a cooking program. But I can’t complain even as a viewer because the way Janice banters with her guests is also delicious to watch.

While waiting for my supposedly simple dish to cook, I told her about how I can eat spoiled food and not worry about a stomach upset after — and how I still drink water straight from the faucet to this day (that’s how much I trust our MWSS system).

When the fries finally browned, I threw in the rest of the ingredients: Carrots (you have to fry it in order to bring out its sweetness, that’s only my opinion), onions, hotdogs, turnips (to have the crunchy bite) and green peas. What a mess I made after that — with the ingredients spilled all over the table and some even on the floor.

And you know what, Janice picked up some of the fries scattered on the counter (but not on the floor). No, she wasn’t that starved. She was just being the usual practical mother who hates to see food go to waste.

After I was done with my omelet — assisted by Janice like I was doing some really complicated dish like chicken cordon bleu — we sat down to eat and I discovered another one of her many facets: She is so passionate about her cooking that she enrolled in a culinary school and with the way she remedied my mess of an omelet, I can believe she is also now highly skilled in this field. As an actress, she no longer has to prove anything (she will be a strong contender in the next awards race for Last Viewing). But now she has conquered even the art of cooking and she is totally irreplaceable as the host of Spoon. She knows not only her way around the kitchen, but also into the heart of her guest to bring out the best in the person.

I swear I never had a lovelier time in my life — and I owe that to Janice and her Spoon staff. Even better was when I was given almost a truckload of goodies — from fresh Dizon farm fruits to a cornucopia of Alaska products (I consumed all of that in a matter of weeks). I also rediscovered Magnolia ice cream and its new flavors. It was like I went on a grocery raid that time.

I actually felt sad when the taping ended and I’m tempted to say that appearing in Spoon was a spoonful of fun. No, it wasn’t. It was more like a cauldron of delight.

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