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Belle Yambao, Contributor
March 03, 2011

5 Cooking Tips from Janice and Gelli de Belen

Good Housekeeping's March cover girls share their adventures in the kitchen. By Belle Yambao
janice_gelli_extra.jpgAlthough sisters Janice and Gelli de Belen share many things—they’re both mothers whose careers are in showbiz—a similar taste in food isn’t one of them. Older sister Janice, a Center for Asian Culinary Studies alumna, loves rich flavors in her food. “I believe in soul food. When you cook, it has to be delicious, it has to be rich, you’ve got to enjoy it. Kunwari butter pero hindi butter? Forget it! Use the butter!”

Meanwhile, Gelli prefers simple tastes and no-fuss recipes, just like in her favorite “generic” cookbooks. “I like butter, but I don’t like the butter to overpower,” she says, using the ingredient as a way of explaining their differences. “Si Janice naman, when she cooks, butter nag-o-overpower.”

But while they may not always see eye to eye when it comes to flavors and cooking styles, one thing’s for sure: the sisters both enjoy eating and cooking food. In the March 2011 issue of Good Housekeeping, they openly talk about their different food adventures.

Read on for the lessons Janice and Gelli have to share about their experiences in the kitchen.


To be a good cook, you have to love food. By trying as many different kinds of food as possible, you develop your own sense of taste. For Janice, this involves regular food trips with her friend Chef Junjun de Guzman. “Feeling ko, nate-test rin ang palate ko if it’s actually reliable or not (I feel like my palate is also being tested),” she shares. “Sasabihin niya sa akin, ‘Never second-guess kung ano’yung feeling mo (He will tell me to never second-guess what I feel [about the food].’”


While it might be tempting to only stick to what you know, trying new recipes will also benefit you in the long run. “I used to have signature dishes, but after culinary school, dapat maluto mo lahatsayang naman ang pinag-aralan mo (you have to know how to cook anything, or else your training would have been a waste),” Janice says. “I’m more adventurous with what I cook now.” For Janice, the rewards include happy children. “You know what, my youngest son, Yuan, says, ‘Wow, Mom, you’re the best! This is so masarap!’ When your son says it’s the best, you’re in heaven!”


While Gelli prefers the more straightforward and traditional route when it comes to cooking, this doesn’t mean her food isn’t as delicious as elaborate dishes. Her boys love and appreciate her lasagna and desserts. Gelli shares that it’s their mom’s cooking that inspires her the most, a standard that she tries to live up to today. “Growing-up, dishes namin were Mommy’s cooking. Lasagna, ham… she’s got this spaghetti sauce that we grew up with that I love.”


Always remember that you’re cooking for your loved ones. This means that while relying on your talents in the kitchen, you should consider their preferences too. Gelli and youngest son Julio, for example, love anything sweet, while husband Ariel Rivera and eldest son Joaqui prefer meat. Gelli reveals that while she started eating more meat, Ariel also started appreciating desserts. “Pati siya, nahahawa siya sa akin, because I love dessert. When we met, hindi siya nagde-dessert. Now, minsan nauuna pa siya sa akin maghanap ng dessert. (He wasn’t big on desserts when we met, but he’s starting to like them now. Sometimes, he asks for it before I do.)”


There’s a saying that too many cooks spoil the broth, but the results can still be good as long as you help each other in the kitchen. If you and your loved ones are preparing a meal together, let each member take on a task that he or she loves. Gelli, for example, takes the no-fuss approach when sharing a kitchen with Janice. “I let her do the cooking. I just help in the preparation—anong huhugasan, anong hihiwain, anong gagawin (what to wash, what to slice, what to do).”  When cooking with her husband, she lets Ariel grill meat, something he loves doing and considers his expertise. “He’s a guy, ’di ba? Basta grilling, that’s his arena.”

gh_cover.jpgTo find out more about Janice and Gelli’s experiences, grab a copy of Good Housekeeping Magazine’s March 2011 issue, out on stands now.  

Also in this issue:
Bakasyon Special
Food Trip: 20+ Easy Dishes
Your Summer Skincare Guide

(Photo by Ocs Alvarez)
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