Camille Ongpauco knows food. Ask her which dishes to order in a new restaurant and she can give you a detailed list and description. The same goes for when in need of recommendations for caterers, patisseries or florists when organizing a party. Hers is the ideal phonebook for any host, especially those who would rather outsource than cook.
Coming from a family of restaurateurs and experience as a chef has molded Camille into becoming somewhat of an expert when it comes to food and putting together a party even on the last minute. Friends and family will usually call her to help them complete a menu or call in for food. Her upbringing has also contributed to her love for whipping up dishes either following an old family recipe or an experimental dish.
This love for cooking is something she shares not only with family but also her best friends also known as the Dish Club. “We started around eight years ago at a time when we were stopped wanting to go out and party. Instead, we all felt the need to organize get-togethers wherein we could enjoy each other’s company over good food and drinks. We all agreed that the best way to do this was to hold dinners in the comforts of our homes.” Each month, the girls take turns hosting. Themes vary from American to Italian and even French depending on the type of cuisine the girls want to explore and learn. “Normally, we assign a dish or two for each person. It could be an appetizer, soup, main dish or salad. Then of course there would be the poison for the night. It could be a selection of wine, ice cold beers or a gin tray with fresh herbs,” explains the chef who is in her element when working in the kitchen.
It spending hours in the kitchen with friends that she enjoys most about entertaining. “We take our time cooking our dishes so that it’s done right. In between we catch up and even meddle in each other’s pots!” She adds that since the ladies usually prepare the food themselves, there is hardly enough time to get dolled up for dinner proper. “We are ladies who are not afraid to get our hands dirty. When we end early in the kitchen, those are the only times we get dolled up. Otherwise, we get right to it and eat to our heart’s desire.”
Typically, dinners begin later than scheduled because of the time spent preparing the dishes and decking out the table. “My tablescape would depend on the theme. Sometimes, I would also call on my cousin Happy (Ongpauco) for a little help. Regardless of theme, my settings always tend to be contemporary.” Fornasetti plates, black and silver chargers, crystal stemware and black glass goblets are elements that Camille likes to lay to her table, complemented by white blooms, succulents and pine. “Good music, candle lighting and food made with love” are other essentials that make Camille’s dinners extra special.
SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THE DISH CLUB’S INTIMATE DINNERS…
Five Dinning Rules of the Dish Club
1. Great food, always! We never cease to amaze each other with our new concoctions.
2. As much as possible, we don’t do repeats unless by special request. This most recent dinner is the only time we did our all time favorites from the past years we’ve been doing our dinners.
3. Tablescapes must be beautiful and Instagrammable. I call on my cousin Happy for help most of the time or if not head out to source my flowers and create the settings myself. I’m also lucky to have best friends who love flowers and creating unique arrangements.
4. Good music. We like to reminisce on old times so more often than not we play tunes from the 90s or early 2000. Having nostalgic music enhances conversations and sometimes even prompts us to song or dance.
5. Always make room for dessert an your favorite poison.
Black Truffle Pasta
1 pack De Cecco Pasta (Farfalle or Penne Rigate)
3/4 cup Cooking Cream
3 tablespoons Salsa Tartufata
30 grams Dried Porcini Mushrooms
2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
Flamingo Sicilian Sea Salt
- Boil 6 liters of water.
- Once at a boil, add tbsp of coarse salt and oil.
- Drop pasta into the salted boiling water.
- Stir once and leave to cook.
- Once cooked, drain pasta and mix with the sauce.
- Soak porcini mushrooms in warm water for 15 minutes.
- Slice mushrooms to desired size.
- Coat pan with butter over medium heat and sauté porcini mushrooms.
- Add cooking cream and simmer for 20 seconds over medium heat. If cream becomes too thick, dilute the mixture with salted pasta water.
- Add Salsa Tartufata to the cream.
- Mix in sauce with newly cooked pasta and season with salt.
Text by Bianca Salonga
Photography by Yukie Sarto
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