Dedet De La Fuente On Her Lechon Degustacion And Top 5 Party Essentials
When it comes to setting up events or parties, we can talk all day about design, color combinations, pairings, and swanky table tableaus. But, in the end, the make-or-break factor for any shindig is the food.
And what’s a Filipino gathering without lechon, that wondrous, greasy, savory pork dish beloved by all Pinoys. It’s the perfect dish for any occasion, just ask the country’s own Lechon Diva, Dedet de la Fuente of Pepita’s Kitchen.
“Lechon is such a beloved dish because we all have wonderful memories associated with it,” Dedet shares. “We always have lechon during special occasions, so there’s always a nostalgia effect.”
We agree and, of course, that salty-sweet flavor of lechon has a universal appeal to almost every culture. There’s something primal about eating the dish. Perhaps the smell, look, and taste of lechon takes us back further into the olden days, when our ancestors would actually roast big game on a roaring fire pit. But we digress; let’s get back to lechon, and how the Diva sets a swanky party.
When we entered Dedet’s home, we were instantly struck by the beauty of the interiors—white walls paired with dark wooden furnishings, with flourishes of Filipiniana-themed items.
Dedet uses the living room and dining room to host her numerous degustación get-togethers. In these events, the Lechon Diva would showcase her skills and experience in creating the Philippine’s most beloved dishes. “Every degustación is different, but it has a familiar theme as well,” she says. Her events are now famous for their creativity and unique take on Filipino cuisine.
She then went on to describe the different themes of her degustación. “There’s my original, the Hayop na Degustation, the Dinner at Tiffany’s, and the Richman’s Feast. My newest is Ms. Celine Degustacion.” Dedet then had a hearty laugh, and explains that it’s named after the popular Michelin guide.
Apart from setting a tasty table, her dinner setup looks great as well. A decidedly Filipiniana tableau in the dining table is, of course, the principal design aesthetic of the Lechon Diva’s setup. A massive 16-seater dark wood table is covered by a classic embroidered white tablecloth, while wooden silyas complete the Filipino theme of the dinner table.
A golden charger is used for the tablescape, paired with white plates. Textured clear crystals are used for drinks, another homage to the classic Filipino-colonial look. Her lucky kalesa wooden figures are also present in the setup, and is also used to hold Choc-Nut bars, one of her favorite local sweets.
What’s a Lechon Diva setup without the lechon? We had her classic lechon, but instead of her famed truffle rice, the pork is stuffed with lumpia ingredients. There was also kare-kare made with kasuy (a unique take on that classic Pinoy dish), and also her famed Super Suman. The dish has multicolored toppings. There was Choc-Nut, ube pastillas, macapuno, and more.
After the hearty meal, Dedet then regales us with more stories. We are particularly enthralled with her story of Anthony Bourdain having two big servings of her lechon on his last (and final) visit to the Philippines. “Nag-take home pa siya, and even posted the dish on his Instagram!” Dedet proudly says.
Five party items the Lechon Diva can’t do without:
1. Antique bells, which she uses to summon guests to the table. She also uses it to call the attention of guests when introducing new dishes to her degustación.
2. Lucky wooden kalesa. Dedet brought the figures all over the world, and it has brought luck to her every time. The figure always graces her table setup.
3. The painting, which she commissioned to portray her childhood memories and her family.
4. Her daughters. In the early days of Pepita’s Kitchen, the girls would always help with the carving and serving. They still do today, when their schedules allow it.
5. The Lechon. Because what’s The Lechon Diva setup without the lechon?
*This article was originally published in Metro Home & Entertaining magazine.
Photographs by Daniel Soriano for Metro Home & Entertaining magazine