Phoemela Baranda is a DIY snack master
KITCHEN SPY - KITCHEN SPY By Heidi Ng () - March 10, 2005 - 12:00am
People who know Phoemela Baranda swear she can be crazy and funny. She is a child trapped in a woman’s body. For her age, she has amassed a great resume, a successful modeling portfolio, and a burgeoning television hosting career. Most famous for having been part of the top-rating show, Extra Challenge, she can only relive stories about her stint with the GMA-7reality program. She cannot forget rappelling down a billboard on EDSA, diving in Boracay with very little time to actually learn the sport, and playing a taong grasa on Roxas Blvd. It was a truly humbling experience for Phoem.

"Pinalakad kami sa Roxas Blvd. rummaging through trash cans. When you see people doing it, you begin to realize and appreciate what you have that other people don’t," she shares.

Her 10 months with the show proved to be a memorable one. Controversies aside, she can only count her blessings for being part of the program. Because of her exposure on Extra Challenge, she was awarded the PMPC Star Award for Best Female Host. She adds, "It is really because of the show that I became known by the masa crowd."

She just wrapped up a one-month hosting gig for Morning Star and is now seen Sundays on the showbiz talk show The Buzz as segment host for "Barangay Buzz." This time, she brings celebrities to barangays, so the artistas can be personally interviewed to make them more popular with the viewers.

However, this model was long known in the modeling world before she joined showbiz. She started in the business at 13, modeling for beauty products. She always looked up to Tweetie de Leon as a role model ever since she was little. She tried out as a Pink Soda Club member, but only managed to place seventh. Alas, when the sixth placer backed out for some reason, she was called in to take her place. Pink Soda’s six included hunk-of-the-moment Wendell Ramos and supermodel Grace Tagle.

She was later invited by top model Apples Aberin to join the Professional Models Association of the Philippines. She went to Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Thailand for regional shampoo commercials, and later to the romantic city of Florence for a De Beers diamond campaign. After her Florence shoot, the group even went to culturally hip Rome. Talk about the perks of being a model!

Even though Phoem gets good breaks in commercials, modeling and TV hosting, she is seriously thinking of pursuing her masters and try to be better in the kitchen. Her do-it-yourself snacks include: her version of mango crumble using Graham crackers, ripe mangoes, and vanilla ice cream topping; a version of Smores using Graham crackers to sandwich Wrigley’s chocolate-covered marshmallows; and her baked tahong topped with mozzarella cheese, garlic and pizza sauce.

I wonder how this snack-a-holic can be so fit! She gorges on high-calorie snacks, loves chicken feet, dim sum and spareribs rice from Le Ching, and is not gym-obsessed. It must be in her genes.

Do try her version of pasta puttanesca. It tastes just right, not too salty, and does not pack a wallop of calories unlike her sweet snacks. Bon appetito!
Phoem’s Puttanesca
2 Tbsps. olive oil
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. onion, minced
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 anchovy fillet
2 Tbsps. capers
2 Tbsps. black olives
250 g. spaghetti noodles
3 whole peeled tomatoes
50 g. green and red bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 small can tomato sauce

Cook the spaghetti noodles in a pot for 15 minutes or till al dente. In a sauce pan, sauté garlic and onion in olive oil. Pour in small can of tomato sauce, add the bell peppers and anchovy fillet. Throw in the capers and olives together with the whole peeled tomatoes. Squash the tomatoes. Toss the spaghetti noodles into the pan. Add onion powder, salt, and pepper to taste.
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