Top 10 entertaining tips from Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi

Top 10 entertaining tips from Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi

10 THINGS (The Philippine Star) - September 23, 2017 - 4:00pm

She’s one of those women who can effortlessly set up a Pinterest-worthy dining table, whip up a four-course gourmet meal in an hour or two, and still enjoy a glass of wine after having tucked her kids into bed, all before her guests come over.

“My parents were super glamorous in the ’80s,” says Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi about her parents, Joe and Vicky Zubiri. “They always had these big, big parties, everyone was dressed to the nines, no one was in jeans — and this was just a regular Friday night! I was this little girl just watching them from the top of the stairs,” she recalls.

The youngest of the Fernandez-Zubiri clan, wife to businessman Jonathan Crespi, mother to Sebastian and Maximillian, Stephanie Zubiri Crespi is truly #homemakergoals. Here are 10 tips about entertaining in your home, by SZC.

1“The host should not be stressed!”

“That’s number one!” Steph stresses. “Some people feel like if they invite people to their home, they have to fix it up like they’re in a restaurant. They’re not, they’re in a home! People are not going to your house to experience restaurant service. They’re going because they want to hang out with you.”

2 Get your guests involved.

“In Europe, when you go to a dinner, you get to the kitchen and they’re like, ‘Oh, can you cut the bread?’ or ‘Can you bring this out?’ They make utos their guests!” Steph says with a laugh. “I like doing family-style dinners because you have to serve other people. Rather than a buffet where you line up, you put food in the middle, get people to pass around things. I like it when people are interacting!”

3 “I believe in adapting the type of party to the number of guests.”

“If it’s more than 12, I wouldn’t do a sit-down dinner. I’d do cocktails or a heavy buffet, and people can mix and mingle,” she explains. “Honestly, I don’t think people should put round tables in their house. You don’t need to, there are other options!” Steph says with a chuckle. “You’re not hosting a wedding. You need to make it more intimate. And I find that when people are at round tables, nakaupo lang silang lahat —and that’s not fun.”

4 “One of my tricks for a cocktail party is to purposely not have enough seats.”

“So that people will circulate,” she shares. “They’ll go, ‘Here, you want to sit?’ and they talk, and they move, and they get to mingle.

“You need levels. Sometimes, I’ll take out all the chairs from my dining table and all the food is there. But I’ll put two chairs in one corner, and two in another corners. So guests can move around, from the table, to the bar area, or to the coffee table with a sofa.”

5 “You need to have two or three recipes that you, or your cook, can do really well.”

“Another tip is, if you’re in a pinch, just have one go-to supplier. Like I know this lady who does this excellent roast pork belly. And that’s good for 10 people. So if I’m in a hurry, I’ll just buy that, then I’ll throw in a salad,” Steph reveals. “If you don’t really cook, I always recommend that you make just one thing. Even if its baked brie na, actually, minicrowave mo lang. Or it could be a cocktail. Just one thing.”

6 “A good cheese and cold cuts platter requires absolutely no effort.”

On cheese recommendations: “Brie! Everyone loves brie! Then you need to have a hard cheese like gouda or comté. Then one fun one, so you can do goat cheese or blue cheese.”

On cold cuts recommendations: “I do like Schwarzwald Schinken, it’s like a black forest ham, it looks like a prosciutto but smokier. Then a salami, something spicy. Or a chorizo. Basta you have one fatty one and one lean one.

“My number one lazy day kitchen hack is raclette! You just buy a raclette machine, serve salad, boil some potatoes, and have your guests cook for themselves.”

7 “If your plates are nice, immediately your table is dressed up, you don’t need more.”

“Me kasi, I like investing in nice plates! And I use them every day. Sometimes, I just get birds of paradise from the garden, then our cook goes around the village to get plants from empty lots for the table settings,” Steph says laughing. A self-confessed plate hoarder, she admits she has 25 sets of plates in her collection. “I’m on a plate ban by my husband!”

On the best places to buy plates: “If abroad, I love Paris flea markets. Or Ho Chi Minh, in Ben Thanh market, they have super nice blue and white plates! So cheap, too. In Bangkok also, Chatuchak! They have really nice flatware na brass and pewter, or some with wooden or bamboo handles. Glassware they have a lot, too. Locally, Bangkal! Pottery Barn for more classic stuff, and Crate & Barrel for more modern designs. Actually, SM, Market Market, even Japan Home Store!”

8 “My best Divi tip is to just go with the flow and see what they have.”

Steph is a huge fan of Divisoria and goes regularly to check out everything from clothes to home and party items. “I think if you go to Divi with something specific in mind, and you don’t see it… you get pikon, then you get frustrated, then you get lost, and you spend hours going around. So it’s best to find specific suppliers as your go-to, but in general, just walk around and be open-minded! If you find something you like, you have to take a picture of the stall kasi baka hindi mo mahanap ulit,” she says laughing.

9 “You can spend P5,000 on an amazing bottle of wine, but if the person doesn’t even care — sayang.”

“Consider your guests. Are they wine lovers? Do they like beer? Will they drink whatever? One time I bought a really nice bottle of red wine, and my dad was like, ‘I don’t drink red,’ and I told him how it was really, really good, and he just goes, ‘No, it gives me a stomachache.’ Wala siyang paki!” Steph laughs. “Serve something that you know your guests will like.”

On wine recommendations: “There’s a Sauvignon Blanc in Santi’s called Ribbonwood from New Zealand. Santi’s has a really good selection of value for money wines. Choose your house white and house red, something that you and your husband or your friends like to drink. Then one that is a little bit more premium for special occasions. Peg it at your budget.” She lists sparkling wine, rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling as five of the most crowd-pleasing wines you can serve.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be you.”

“It’s not about being perfect, it has to reflect who you are, what you like to eat and drink,” she explains. “I think one of the biggest problems people have when they plan a party is that they are so hell bent on specifics. Then when things go wrong, it freaks them out. If something doesn’t go as planned, no one will know but you! It doesn’t matter. What matters is why you are inviting people over — and it’s to have fun. What are you doing your party for? Are you doing it to show off, or are you doing it to have fun with your friends? Go easy on yourself.”





* * *

These 10 tips from Steph are just a tiny fraction of the advice she shares in her new book, Feast With Me. Here, she shares recipes, table setting tips, travel stories, and even wine pairings. “You know what, you don’t have to do everything yourself. If you don’t cook, you can just order stuff and make it lipat to your plates. If you wanna try a recipe, choose an easy one. If you’re not good at arranging flowers, you can just put candles. That’s it. Fuss-free. No stress. Entertaining at home is not really so much about cooking at home, but making people feel at home, in your home.”

* * *

Feast With Me by Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi is now available online through <> with international shipping, and will be out in National Book Store on Oct. 6. Message the author @iamsuperbianca.

Stephanie Zubiri in numbers:

6: Number of years she has been writing her Philippine STAR column, “Feast With Me.”

223: Number of pages in the book that contains 51 recipes and 30 wine-pairing notes.

20: Number of months it took from planning to publishing her book.

14: Years of experience Steph has had in the culinary industry.

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