• Heavenly flavors from ‘Helen’s Kitchen’

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    TESSA MAURICIO-ARRIOLA

    With cable TV’s fiery tempered Gordon Ramsay on season break for “Hell’s Kitchen,” another cooking program may just tempt foodies over at Cignal TV’s Colours for the next several weeks. But unlike the tension-filled reality cooking competition whose celebrity chef is known to spew expletive-laden spiels, this Filipino cooking show will be far more relaxed and soothing with one gracious and soft spoken lady in charge of the hot stove.

    Welcome to “Helen’s Kitchen,” a cooking program premiering on July 1 from seasoned actress Helen Gamboa-Sotto. Now if you watch free TV’s longest running noon time show “Eat Bulaga,” you will know that Tita Helen’s cooking skills are legendary from the hosts’ endless praises for dishes she regularly sends to the studio. Finally, the public will soon find out why the likes of Alden Richards, Maine Mendoza, Ruby Rodriguez and Alan K fight over the tinapa rice of Sen. Tito Sotto’s wife on air, and why little Ryzza Mae can’t seem to go on diet!

    Helen Gamboa-Sotto’s new cooking program was taped in her very own kitchen at the Sotto residence

    On Wednesday, The T Zone attended the grand launch of Helen’s Kitchen at Seda Vertis North in Quezon City, where its lovely host excitedly talked about her latest endeavor. After thanking everyone for asking after her health [Tita Helen had to take a break from teleseryes due to a slipped disc], she did not assume that everyone knew her talent for the kitchen and explained, “Some of you may ask, bakit isang cooking program? Kasi I got this passion for cooking from my mom who always cooked a lot for our family and our friends. I always admired how she cooked and learned from her.

    “But then I started [my career]as a singer and actress, so I only really picked up cooking nung nag-asawa na ako, kasi nga sabi nila, ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’,” she added sweetly.

    Tita Helen—who was the Philippines’ movie queen during the transition period from the Susan Roces-Amalia Fuentes era to the Vilma Santos-Nora Aunor heyday—chose to become a full-time housewife and only dabbled in showbiz one project at a time. She concentrated on taking care of her actor-politician husband and her brood of three, feeding them hearty and heavenly home-cooked meals, many of which she came to concoct herself through the years. Can you imagine the flavors that would come from a steaming bowl of Sinigang na Hito with Saba and Puso ng Saging? Or a plate of Torta ala Cubana instead of the usual Arroz ala Cubana?

    “I just want to share with everyone through this show na mayroong ibang style of cooking na baka magustuhan niyo rin,” Tita Helen humbly related. “Like today, I made my version of Pork Asado for all of you to bring home, so please, let me know if you like it or if you have suggestions to make it better.”

    So gracious indeed is Helen Gamboa-Sotto that her closest family and friends—from brother in-law Vic Sotto to Joey de Leon, and director Bibeth Orteza who helms the program—cannot be happier that a dream of hers has come true. To share her recipes straight from her very own kitchen at the Sotto residence where every episode with celebrity guests [see column Roving Eye for the names below]has been taped for the season.

    Reigning Miss Global International Angela Bonilla of Ecuador with the pageant’s Philippine franchise holders, mother-daughter Rizza Lao (left) and Paulene Laping

    “Lahat ng ginagawa ko gusto ko galing sa puso and I’ve always shared my recipes and cooking style with my children and my friends. This is also why I’m very excited for Helen’s Kitchen and had no second thoughts when they offered me the show.”

    The T-Zone then asked Tita Helen how in pursuing her love for cooking she was able to devote ample time in the kitchen, keeping in mind she had the occassional showbiz commitment and responsibilities as a politician’s wife. She simply replied, “It’s just about time management. Gaya itong show na ito, I made sure when I taped [the episodes]yon lang ang trabaho ko, and if you do that—and if you have a passion for something—you will be able to deliver.”

    Helen’s Kitchen will go on air for the first time on July 1, exclusively on Cignal TV’s Colours channel.

    ***
    The week that was was certainly filled with beautiful and talented women for The T Zone who, besides meeting Tita Helen anew, also had an encounter with the franchise holders of a very interesting beauty pageant and its reigning international titleholder.

    Mother and daughter Rizza Lao and Pauline Laping of Miss Global-Philippines were excited to share that they will be holding the fourth outing of the pageant tonight at the Newport Performing Arts Theater of Resorts World Manila, with no less than reigning Miss Global International 2016, Angela Bonilla of Ecuador, sitting in the panel of judges.

    Asked what makes Miss Global different from the abundance of beauty pageants nowadays, Laping replied, “Besides advocating Philippine tourism in our case, we also accept candidates who are single mothers and women up to 28 years old. Generally, beauty pageants only allow candidates from 21 to 26 years old.”

    “In fact, for Miss Global International, candidates can be as old as 35,” interjected the very beautiful Angela Bonilla who also revealed that among the 22 candidates for this year’s Miss Global-Philippines, she has met competent single mothers and a confident deaf and mute contestant.

    “She is amazing,” Bonilla said of the latter. “I’m eager to see her onstage on pageant night. You see, Miss Global is all about women empowerment which is why I think the contest is more open than others.”

    Bonilla said she has embraced the advocacy of empowering women—young girls especially—since her reign began when she won the international title right here in Manila last year.

    “When I competed, it was the first time for Ecuador to go into the pageant and the first time for a Latin American to win,” she recalled. “It became very inspirational for many girls back home who write to me and say they want to join Miss Global like I did because they know from my example they can also do it.”

    Besides beauty and intelligence, Bonilla said she will be looking for someone “honest” to win the crown, that is, a woman who can confidently be herself on and off the pageant stage.

    Miss Global, which is based in the US, started in 2013 and it was not until the following year that the Lao and Laping, beauties themselves, started holding the search in the Philippines.

    “Happily, we’ve been doing well in the international competition too. In 2014 Miss Global-Philippines Catherina Amerante won second runner-up in the international pageant held in the US. In 2015 and 2016, we hosted the pageant here at Resorts World Manila and Candace Ramos placed fourth and Camille Jiro placed first, respectively. That was the year Angela won the crown.”

    With the reigning Miss Global International in the panel of judges, Laping said she believes all the more the best candidate will be chosen in tonight’s pageant, thereby upping the Philippines’ chances to finally win the international crown in Cambodia in September.

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