What is Janice cooking?

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo () - June 4, 2011 - 12:00am

Finally, after begging off for almost two years, I found time to guest on Janice de Belen’s five-year-old show Spoon on Net 25 (airing Sundays at 6:30 p.m. with replays throughout the week).

I was at once honored and flattered. Why not? The show’s more than 200 episodes so far have featured such distinguished guests as Eddie Garcia, Gabby Concepcion, Cory Quirino, Nova Villa, Epy Quizon, Ali Sotto, Kim Atienza, Manilyn Reynes, Anjo Yllana, Chino Trinidad, Miriam Quiambao, Gardo Versoza, Mark Gil and STAR columnist/Startalk co-host Butch Francisco (twice), all of whom left “a little something” as souvenirs, prominently displayed on the set.

The taping was scheduled last Monday from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. When I reported to the studio located behind the New Era University, I found Janice being made up at the dressing room. Ever punctual, she arrived at 8 a.m.

I have watched a number of Spoon episodes and I should say that it more than lives up to the two awards (from the Star Awards of the Philippine Movies Press Club) it has won so far (it deserves more, no kidding!) — for Best Showbiz Talk Show. Oh yes, although the show is about cooking, it’s basically (or disguises itself as) a talk show because during the hour, Janice engages her guest in a free-wheeling chit-chat while they are mixing ingredients and waiting for the day’s recipe to be cooked.

I’m amazed by Janice’s casual way of extracting juicy information from her guests, thanks to her efficient staff who does a thorough research to come up with probing questions. In effect, Spoon educates viewers not only on culinary matters but also on what makes the guests interesting and excel in their fields. No wonder it’s subtitled “Your spoonful of talk.”

Janice has hosted the GMA gossip show S-Files with Richard Gomez, Joey Marquez and Paolo Bediones, and the variety show SIS (also GMA) with her sister Gelli de Belen, but I agreed when she said that she has found “my niche” in Spoon. You see, besides being an interesting and intelligent talker, Janice is a kitchen wizard (di ba obvious? hehehe!). She doesn’t only cook tummy-filling dishes (name it, she can whip it up), she also bakes yummy cakes and cookies. Last Christmas, I received two garapon-fuls of Janice-made cookies, one from Janice herself and the other one from a showbiz friend who had ordered several dozens as Christmas presents.

“I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert cook, tamang-tama lang,” Janice qualified. “It was our mom (Susan) who trained us to be a good housekeeper, and it includes knowing how to cook, kasi sabi niya ‘yon daw ang dapat sa isang wife and mother.”

On the set (which Spoon shares with Gladys Reyes’ show MOMents, another interesting Net 25 show), I made several refreshing discoveries, among them: 1) laid out on the spotlessly-clean table in the kitchen are the dozens of ingredients ready to be mixed in the (would you believe) grease-less pots and pans, 2) Janice has dozens of aprons (during our taping, she wore a denim apron), 3) the taping usually takes almost two hours (enough for the day’s recipe to be cooked), and 4) Janice doesn’t get confused with the process (pour the chicken broth as soon as the frying pan is hot enough with just a minimum of cholesterol-free cooking oil, put in the garlic and the onions, etc.) even as she carries on an engrossing conversation with her guest.

Between takes (and starting at the dressing room), I tried, in vain, to draw “spoonfuls of tsismis” from Janice but she proved to be as slippery as the fish that she sometimes cooks on the set — you know, how her relationship is with ex-husband John Estrada (father of Janice’s four younger children; the eldest, Luigi, now married with a second child coming soon, is Janice’s son with Aga Muhlach), stuff like that.

“No comment,” Janice only said, “I’m an ‘ex’. I’m happy where I am. I’ve been independent for a long time. Before I got married, I was a single parent (to Luigi) and then after I got married and separated, I became a single parent again.”

I won’t tell you what recipe Janice made me cook (find out for yourselves from Spoon tomorrow night at 6:30 on Net 25). All I can tell you is that after the two-hour taping, Janice and I shared the food with the staff and everybody had a good burp. Another discovery: They actually eat what we cook on the show.

Yes, I parted with my Tupperware (that I’d been using for my baon) as “souvenir,” together with the spoon and fork, and it should be on display on the set by now, along with those of the other guests. In “exchange,” Janice gave me an apron with the word “SPOON” printed across the chest.

A confession: I was still burping as I wrote this piece.

(E-mail reactions at mailto:rickylo@philstar.net.phor at mailto:entphilstar@yahoo.com. You may also send your questions to mailto:askrickylo@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos visit http://www.philstar.com/funfare.)

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