Still racking your brain over what to bring for the big family Noche Buena next month? Here’s Chef Myke “Tatung” Sarthou’s advice: instead of going for a gourmet Mediterranean or French dinner theme, why don’t you try serving your Filipino food favorites this year?

“I think, for so many years, people haven’t been cooking traditional food anymore. It’s about time that we go back,” says Chef Tatung, who believes that Christmas is the perfect time to go Pinoy on your plate. Read on to see his suggestions for setting the most wonderful meal of the year.

1. NURTURE NOSTALGIA.
“Bakit tayo lalayo (why should we veer away from tradition?)? Why experiment on something na magpapaka-iba ka (that will be different), and when you’re eating on the table, you have to explain so many stuff?” asks Chef Tatung. “You can have [different cuisine] any day… And [Christmas is] also about tradition, so why break the tradition?”

2. SHARE YOUR SPECIAL RECIPES.
Dati kasi (Before), growing up, we’d have Noche Buena and every aunt would bring her specialty,” shares Chef Tatung. “If there are people in the family who have their special recipes that they haven’t done in quite some time, something that reminds you of your childhood, it’s the best time for them to teach it to their kids for the purpose of continuing the heritage and continuing the tradition.”

3. COOK AS A FAMILY.
Noche Buena is a time actually when the family can cook together,” says Chef Tatung, who shares that nieces and nephews would always help him out in the kitchen on the rare occasion he gets to spend Christmas in his province, Cebu. “There’s no time like Christmas, when you prepare a meal together and eat it together. It brings back a lot of memories, especially when the older ones get together, it brings them back to a certain time. And you know, you allow the kids to partake in that experience… it’s something to really treasure.”

4. IT’S NOT THE TIME TO TEST OUT NEW DISHES.
Christmas is not the time to experiment,” says Chef Tatung. “Because we should be able to eat something we’re familiar with, and that everyone will be happy with. It’s not the time to show off. Stick to the classics, something that you’re sure your lolo, lola, uncles will enjoy.”

(Photo by Mike Dee)

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