'Lechon Diva' now caters. Here are 12 dishes you should order

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 05 2017 12:58 PM | Updated as of Oct 09 2017 06:40 PM

Dedet 'Lechon Diva' de la Fuente poses with her special buffet spread. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Good news for lechon lovers!

Pepita’s Kitchen, which made its mark in the local food scene with its exclusive lechon degustacion dinners, has expanded into catering.

For Dedet de la Fuente, who has been given the moniker “Lechon Diva” for her exquisite stuffed lechons, going into catering is the logical next step. While she started in private dining at her residence in posh Magallanes Village in Makati, in recent years, she has brought her prized lechons -- as well as other Filipino dishes -- to the buffets of Manila Hotel and Diamond Hotel, and even participated in special events in Hong Kong, Singapore and New York.

“People always ask me, ‘Do you cater?’ So slowly I’m accepting,” she told ABS-CBN News at the recent launch of her latest culinary offering.

Her first catering job was for celebrity couple Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera who threw a party for 90 people at their Makati residence.

De la Fuente said she wants to limit her catering jobs to only 100 guests, while her minimum would be 10 persons. “But if it’s 10, it’s a little more expensive,” she clarified, especially if the dishes include pricey ingredients like crab and shrimp.

This miniature calesa serves as a holder for Chocnut. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

Given her background in private dining, de la Fuente makes sure the spread includes personal touches like the kitschy Filipino table decor that have been used as holders for munchies like chicharon and Chocnut.

The spread also includes stations for make-your-own fresh lumpia and palabok. Even the kare-kare, which uses only oxtail, was displayed with the vegetables placed on the side along with the bagoong.

While de la Fuente assured us that she has a long list of dishes, like Pinoy favorites sisig and menudo, here are 12 of our favorite dishes which customers can enjoy in a Pepita’s Kitchen-catered Filipino feast.

1. South Sea Pearls Seafood

This appetizer is vintage de La Fuente with its classy presentation using a goblet made from a seashell, holding light, tiny sago pearls with a bite-sized chunk of seafood.

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

2. Crostinis with Bulalo and Oxtail Marmalade

This appetizer is ideal for cocktails with a choice of bone marrow or oxtail marmalade which can be used as a spread for crostini toasts.

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

3. Lechon Scones

A bit heavier than the crostinis, these scones come with a special butter flavored with the traditional lechon sauce (hence the name, Mr. Tomas butter).

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

4. Crab Gulong-Gulong

Fans of Pepita's Kitchen have probably tasted this crab dish already, which is part of the degustacion menu. But for catering jobs, de La Fuente made it more convenient for party-goers by already taking out the crabmeat from the shell. But don’t worry, it still has that aligue and secret sauce which, she boasted, “mapapagulong ka sa sarap.”

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

5. Mixed Seafoods with Labuyo Sauce

Another seafood dish is this one which has crab, shrimps and mussels with bits of Spanish chorizo mixed in with a yummy sauce that had the right amount of heat for another flavor dimension.

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

6. Stuffed Chicken

She may have made her name with stuffed lechon but it’s only now that de La Fuente has introduced stuffed chicken. So far she has two flavors: one stuffed with rice, pine nuts and Portobello mushrooms; and another with bread stuffing and foie gras.

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

7. Tagalog Lechon

“Not all our lechons we put rice,” de la Fuente pointed out. Here’s one: instead of rice, she used marbled potatoes, while the flavors come from the garlic bulb, siling sigang and lemongrass.

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

8. Cebuana Lechon

De la Fuente humbly admits that she tried to make lechon Cebu — but failed to get the right level of saltiness. So she made her own “feminine” version (hence the name), which uses siling labuyo, lemongrass, roasted garlic and chicken wings (really).

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

9. Guinataang Munggo

Many consider this more of a merienda item but since it’s quite rare to see this particular type of guinataan in restaurants, it was a welcome sight on the buffet.

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

10. Bread Pudding

Here’s a more traditional dessert made more Filipino with strips of sweetened macapuno and layers of ube halaya inside.

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

11. Ginger and Avocado Ice Candy

These were served as a palate cleanser in lieu of the usual sorbet but for some guests, these nostalgic ice candies could also be enjoyed as dessert.

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

12. Seafood Arroz Caldo

But perhaps the ideal closer to a night of fun is a steaming hot bowl of arroz caldo. Instead of the usual chicken, de la Fuente used seafood like crabmeat, shrimps, halaan and mussels. But it’s still the perfect post-drinking Pinoy comfort food.

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News