catering behind the scenes

21 Aug

If my clogs could talk, they would say that after all the physical work catering entails, it is beyond wonderful to sit down, have a glass of ice cold drink, feet propped up, calm soothing music and the feeling of ‘we did it and it was beautiful’ at the end of the day.

For this event, we served 120 guests of the University of Asia and the Pacific.  It was a cocktail party at about 4PM in the afternoon.  I will share with you some catering behind-the-scenes of today’s event.

A lot of planning and preparation goes into catering services, days, weeks or even months before the event itself.  But that’s a whole different and long story altogether.  This is how our day went, more or less.

DAY ONE of cooking at the Il Piccino Kitchen.  Cooks getting ready to make 200+ pieces of everything. A lot of prep went into our food, hence a long time stuck on cleaning the spinach, cleaning the squash flowers, etc.  It gets repetitive after a while so our background music and everyone’s happy disposition made it a little bit more fun.  I love working with young, vibrant and passionate people.  It makes what I do more meaningful.


The girls in their bandanas, although no uniforms.  People, it is really HOT in the kitchen.  You.will.sweat.  I always get this complaint from my staff.  ‘…ang init kc… pwede apron nalang? pwede wag na mag uniform? pwede…’


One cook down!  This is what they do when Im not around. 🙂  When I’m hustling doing 10 things at one time, driving, eating, making calls or what not.  JK.  It is fine to take breaks from time to time.  Haha and this is what happens when you are asleep… she, by the way, finished about 100+ arancini but had 100+ more to go.


The cooks getting ready for battle! We started our day at 6AM, given the event was at 4PM.  With all the frying and assembling of little cocktail pieces, we had to start early.  Cooking for this event, by the way, started 2 days ago.


At the venue, setting up the buffet table, cocktail tables, staging area, etc.  After the tables have been placed in their proper places, table cloths have been placed and skirting done, I place the servingware on the table to see how everything will be displayed.  Backdrop for today is the simple white board covered with white cloth and hanging vases with a mix of fresh and paper flowers.  Paper flowers used for backdrop and cocktail table centerpieces were made in house the week before.

I get nervous EVERY catering event.  You never know what can go wrong!  That is why I have everything planned out, with room for backlog and mistakes, days before.  For today’s event, parking was the most hassle of all!!! That was actually the only thing i did not for see.  Having visited the venue before, i thought parking within school grounds was easy.  But it being a Friday (i guess?)  there was NO parking.  Not inside the school, not outside, anywhere.  Anyway, it all worked out after a million rounds around the Pearl drive-Ortigas area.

Staff making sure all utensils and flatware are clean and rid of dust or water marks.  Student-staff hanging those vases/ lanterns using screw-able hooks.


Cocktail tables spread out for people to use and mingle in later on.  For our DIY centerpieces, wine bottles with fresh and paper flowers with thank you notes hanging on each one (cocktail event for awarding staff and teachers alike)


Student-cooks and staff photo op before guests arrive.  Our make shift kitchen or staging area behind the buffet table.  Food all laid out ready to be assemble and placed on the buffet table


Assembling cocktails before placing them of the serving platters out at the buffet table.  Another hassle was there was no sink.  We had a hose to work hence the stress of my staff squatting while washing and making the most of what we had.  Every catering event is different.  The different venues and resources have made us more resourceful and creative.


Guests are now lining up, ready to eat our delectable Italian food! 🙂 I am particular about the buffet table being kept neat and clean, rid of spills, throughout the service, hence staff should constantly check.  Also, constant checking for the need to refill food is important.  And, no matter how many signs or menu cards there are, people will STILL ask you, ‘Ano ito?’ or ‘What is in this?’ So, every server/ waiter should know what kinds of food are being served.

Winner for today (and a lot of times in the past): Spinach and chorizo profiteroles. A close second is the homemade ravioli


On the menu for today’s catering:

Spinach and chorizo profiteroles

Three cheese stuffed fried fiori di zucca with rosemary honey

Arancini with tomato salsa

Shrimp cocktail with crabmeat and cheese sauce

French toast sandwich

Mixed greens, fresh vegetables with mango vinaigrette and sesame dressing

Spinach cream ravioli with tomato sauce

Tiramisu shooters

Carrot cake bites with cream cheese frosting


Assorted soft drinks

drinking water

iced tea


You too can have your next cocktail party catered by Il Piccino!  May it be an office party, launching, office meeting, inauguration, school event, graduation party, birthday party, etc. Il Piccino can do it for you.

Il Piccino Caterer

0917-8291900 / 02-5038477

Facebook: /ilpiccino


Outside the kitchen and into the office kind of work

21 Aug

Rain is still continuously pouring outside.  It has been the case almost 3 days straight now but it’s all good.  It has allowed me to focus and work.  If my clogs could talk, they would say don’t let the rain pour get to you and continue being productive!  

One of the things I have been able to work on these past few rainy days are the menu packages and layouts for my catering business.  Making layouts take much of my time, effort and concentration since it is not one of my strengths.   I thank God for friends who are very gifted in this department, who have helped me with my layouts in the past.  For simple layouts, I think I can manage, with the help of great strong coffee, PAINT (i do not have photoshop) and a little background music. 

This is my new business card! 🙂  Image


As you can see, it is VERY simple, nothing fancy, just the basic information needed.  However, after printing, I realized I forgot to add one VERY important detail, my email address!!! Anyway, I will have to write it on the back for now.  Next printing, I will add the email address.  I had my business cards printed at IMAGE MAX, Aguirre St., BF Homes, Paranaque.  02-5010323 / 09178167004.  It cost P360 (somewhere there) for 100 pcs.  Not bad.  I checked out their other services as well and I feel their prices are very reasonable.  I simply emailed them the file, called them and told them about it and I had the business cards ready by 4PM the following day.  

Another layout I finished last night is this: Image

Yey! 🙂  Again, very basic.  Im sure those layout savvy people are going to criticize this.  But not to worry, I welcome constructive criticism and have received those from people in the past.  

Anyway, here are some important factors in making a flier, based on my experience:

1. Clearly and directly stated contact information.  All important and necessary information must be placed on the flier, as clearly stated as possible.  If the people reading the flier cannot find the necessary details, how will they contact you?

2. Photos.  Photos help because people are very visual.  Make sure your photos are big enough for people to see and are hi-res (my photos are not hi-res.  i normally use my cellphone for taking photos.  I am in need of a good camera and photography skills… will get there:)).  Use photos that will show people what you offer or what you are about.  

3. Clean, simple layout.  Have you ever seen an over-crowded layout with captions, photos, information everywhere?  I know we want to make use of all the space but it gets difficult to read and understand when too much is said.  Again, stick to the basics, the most important information and have a tag line or heading that is catchy but don’t over-do it with too many tag lines or quotes.  Sometimes, less is more.

4. Efficiency in space.  It costs to have these things printed hence, the smallest possible size of paper, the better.  I was able to fit this in 1/4th size bond paper.  

5. What is it for?  What is your flier for and who will be reading it?  It helps to know where the fliers will be distributed so you know exactly what to place in it and the look of the flier.  

6. Appealing.  Make the flier appealing and interesting enough for people to want to actually look at it and keep it a little bit longer, rather than throwing it the instant they reluctantly accept it.

This will be going to Image Max again for printing and ready for distributing!  

These are 2 very basic and old school marketing tools I have made these rainy days.  I sure do hope that with practice, my skills in this department will get better! 🙂  Photography lessons are definitely on my list of skills to acquire.

Now who says a chef solely works in the kitchen? 🙂  


Relaxing hidden gem that is Moon Garden, Tagaytay

6 Jun


If my clogs could talk, they would say this place is a breath of fresh air.  Sure, there are a couple of quiet and quaint coffee shops, nook and crannies, empty (hence quiet) restaurants and parks in Manila where you can relax and escape even for just an hour but there’s nothing like driving further down south and taking a breather in Tagaytay.  It is known to be a place where one, people who live in Manila, can easily escape to, take a break in, go on a road trip to, take a date out to, go drinking with friends in or simply have a meal at one of the burgeoning restaurants in the area.

I first stayed at Moon Garden a couple of years ago and instantly fell in love with it.  It is so serene, beautiful, peaceful… so relaxing.  Oh ya, very romantic, I must add.  It is a bed and breakfast place, perfect for honeymooners or couples celebrating special occasions or like I mentioned, perfect to just to get away from the hustle bustle of the city with friends and family. (although, not very child-friendly.  its rocks, pond, ditches or hard wood everywhere.)


Moon Garden has only 7 rooms which fit about 2-3 persons per room.  They are currently making a new room, a family room.  A room for 2 costs P2,900.  They do not accept credit card, neither do they accept senior citizen cards.  Lovely and quaint detached rooms or huts made of stone with a nipa kind of roofing.  The place it Bali-inspired, which explains the wide windows, colors of the walls, stone and wooden furniture. Each room has a beautiful stone toilet (opening to the room with just a curtain), a strong ceiling fan, cable TV, queen size bed, dining table and old grandma’s closet.  Be ready to walk up and down those stone steps from your car to room to dining and garden-pond area.  Also, i advise you bring bug spray!  Insects DO bite.





My favorite spot is by the pond.  I love it best in the morning.  The ONLY reason I get up early even if I would like to sleep some more.  There’s something with the sound of the frogs and the insects and the design of the place that makes it so relaxing and peaceful.  Very conducive for dozing off, reflecting, making kwentuhan or simply having a meal. This specific area surprisingly doesn’t have much mosquitoes, maybe because the frogs eat them?


As a cook, I look forward to these quick breaks where you can just sit or lay on your ass the entire time, such a treat from standing like 8 or so hours straight.  Such places where you can relax is also conducive for coming up with new and fresh ideas, simply because you are not doing 10 things at one time but rather pondering on beautiful things, dozing off to dream land getting on the drawing board.

The restaurant inside Moon Garden is strictly for hotel guests.  They do not entertain walk-ins (for dining), simply because they will not have any food for you.  Even for guests, you will have to tell them in advance should you wish to eat dinner or lunch at their place.  Breakfast is included in their rates and ordered the day before. My favorite breakfast here: pork and chicken adobo flakes with scrambled egg, turnip juice, fresh fruits and homemade bread with their banana-guyabano-pineapple jam, butter and cream cheese, all included in the room rate.




It is possible to hold events such as family celebrations, company meetings and other functions.  I would think it would also be a beautiful place for a photo shoot or prenup shoot. Everything uses natural air, no air-conditioning, even rooms.  I had dinner here on a previous visit and food was delicious and portion sizes were generous.  For functions, I guess they have packages which includes meals, snacks and beverages.  ImageImage

Photo of dining area toilet above.  This is another quiet and private area of Moon Garden.  A seating area more at the surface level of the water where you can hear the frogs ‘chirping’ (coz theyre small frogs) and other insects very loudly while eating your dinner.  The lotus flowers are beautiful as well at night time because it is the time when they are open.ImageImage

Photo above is the function area, connected to the main dining hall (10th photo on this post)

Until my next visit.


Moon Garden (Lily Pond) Tagaytay

SVD Road, Tagaytay City (coming from Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay road, turn right on Tagaytay-Calamba road and on the second or third street, turn right.  When I see Discovery’s Country Suites, I know I will be turning right already.  New Starbucks is also very close by.  Small entry-way with sign Lily Pond will be on your left)

+639399139097 (look for Bong)