Family traditions are something that everyone looks forward to, especially during the Yuletide season. For most Filipino families, the most-anticipated Christmas tradition is the Noche Buena meal. It’s when we gather as families, give thanks for the year’s blessings, and share both food and fond memories.
The Manila Times joined San Miguel Pure Foods Culinary Center on October 6 as they hosted “Nostalgia: Holiday Cooking with Celebrity Moms,” a cooking demo and dinner event featuring moms Angeline Dantes—mother of leading actor Dindong Dantes, Maria Victoria “Chupsie” Medina—mother of Ping, Alex, Carl, and Victor Medina, and Rina Casiño—mother of young heartthrob Albie Casiño. Together, they reminisced on family Christmases and shared treasured recipes their children—today among the country’s top actors—grew up with.
Freshly baked artisan rolls paired with Rina’s cheese pimiento spread and butter compound welcomed guests.
The main feast started with Chupsie’s chicken molo soup and Angeline’s Russian potato salad. The main course included Angeline’s meatloaf complemented by the Culinary Center chefs’ Coq au Vin (chicken in wine), oven-baked fish, tender roast beef, and creamy eggplant moussaka.
The meal ended on a sweet note with Rina’s signature apple cinnamon crumble loaf topped with ice cream classic vanilla flavor.
The moms also shared their cherished traditions during Christmas holidays.
Angeline Dantes, like all mothers, is the light of her family. A mom to three girls and two boys, she was exposed to cooking at an early age, when she would go to the wet market with her mother then watch her cook. But it wasn’t until she became a mother herself that she really took cooking to heart.
To celebrate Christmas, she gathers everyone—her kids, their spouses, their spouses’ families—at their home to make sure everyone is present and no one is in a hurry to leave.
“Since I want all my children together and three of them are married, I invite all the in-laws so they don’t have to divide their time because way back, when they were small, I used to divide my time. I stayed at until quarter to 12 in my family and then I rush to my in-laws so I said I don’t want to experience that anymore. So I prepare a lot and I invite all of the in-laws of my kids so we can spend Christmas Eve together,” Dantes told the press.
Medina meanwhile learned to cook from her mother, whom she watched in the kitchen during weekends. As soon as she was able to handle cutleries and the stovetop, she immediately tried her hand at cooking, even going to the market to buy fresh ingredients. Today, she has a wide range of recipes under her belt and has even self-studied baking. She also attends classes to be up-to-date with the latest ingredients and techniques.
“Basically my mom usually brought us to the market. She said that every girl should learn how to cook and then she’d give me tips on what meat to buy; how to look at fish to know if it’s fresh, chicken, pork, different cuts. She tell me what the cuts should be for, so basically my culinary [skill]is influenced by my mom but eventually, when I got married, I read a lot of books and magazines too,” Medina shared.
Their annual holiday spread varies from year to year, depending on the family’s mood or the current food trends. This year, Chupsie is toying with the idea of preparing salted egg prawns, following this year’s trend on salted egg dishes. Their menu constantly evolves, but classics such as chicken molo soup, ham, and queso de bola always make an appearance on the table.
On the other hand, Casiño started out as a working mom, but when Albie’s career took off, she decided that her main focus would be on being a mother. As her sons grew older and became more independent, she also found more time to try her hand at cooking new dishes.
“I am just in my first year into baking. I started with my cheese pimiento and then I made it into a business. My grandmother is my biggest influence in my baking journey. My mom doesn’t bake. The only thing she does is the Russian potato salad and that’s only twice a year,” Casiño said.
“I’m the one who really cooks at home. Even if we have helpers, my children really want my cooking. And then when I started baking, my husband took over the kitchen,” she added.
During the holidays, she said that she and her husband take the lead in the kitchen. Every year, her husband makes his well-loved red pasta while she would bake sweet desserts like apple cinnamon crumble loaf.