Stephanie Zubiri On Picnics, Healthy Eating, And The Dish That Guys Love

We got to chat with the chef and restaurateur during the shoot for her Whip It Up feature last April. View her outtakes and get some food ideas from the culinary pro!

"A memorable picnic doesn't only mean eating good food. The company of your good friends makes it even more memorable," says executive chef and Modern Epicurean Kitchen owner Stephanie Zubiri.

When we visited Stephanie at her home for her Whip It Up shoot (where we also raided her bag--check it!), the food columnist was more than happy to share her picnic tips and ideas for Cosmo girls. She even prepared mouth-watering Mediterranean recipes that you might want to keep in mind when planning a picnic.

And since we know that wise Cosmo chicks stand by the saying "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach", we asked Stephanie to divulge the dish that will definitely impress your dude. Before you view the behind-the-scenes photos, read our short Q&A with Stephanie below.

Do you have any tips for Cosmo girls who plan to go on a picnic date? 

Try to choose like an isothermic bag. Of course, it's nice to keep a basket, but at the end of they day it won't [keep] your food cool and fresh. Otherwise, you'll all get salmonella.

You have to choose food that are travel-friendly, things that preserve like lemon, vinegar, olive oil. That's why Mediterranean food is perfect for picnic. When you make dips or your food is layered with olive oil, it will prevent spoiling from happening. Same with a lot of vinegar, it will prevent spoiling. That's why, for example, I have a grilled vegetable salad instead of a regular salad [because] the actual salad will wilt and by the time you get to your picnic place and it wont be fresh anymore.

And I always like bringing cheeses, bread, things that I don't have to cook. So go get your favorite cold cuts like salami. If you're buying cheese, forgo things like brie because by the time you get there, it's super melted already. You wanna go with hard cheeses like manchego or parmesan.

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Here in Manila, where's the best place to have a picnic?

Well the places are limited. If we are in Makati, I wouldn't be able to find a green place. Picnic doesn't have to be in a grassy area. You could go up to the rooftop of your building.

What's the trick to cooking healthy food without sacrificing taste?

Spices, herbs, proper technique. For example, my tomato chutney [has] very little olive oil, only one teaspoon. But I do spend time caramelizing the onions before putting it in the tomato sauce. The onions are golden brown and it has all the flavor in there. And regarding the sweetness, most people make a mistake when they make tomato sauce. They don't put enough onions, they don't wait for onions to caramelize, so they add extra sugar on top.

Do you have tips for girls who want to eat healthier?

If you have a healthy breakfast, you're more likely to be healthy everyday. So I always have fruits for breakfast. First thing I eat right now is fruits and then I have other stuff like a piece of toast. Try to incorporate more protein, so that I stay full longer. And then every meal, I make it a point to have vegetables, real vegetables, whether it's salad or side dish. And finish that first, so it fills me up first so I don't eat the rest so much. But I don't deprive myself, I still eat whatever and make up for it by exercising. Oh, and fiber!

What's a dish that is guaranteed to impress any man?

I think if a girl knows how to cook a steak really, really well. A well-cooked steak, not well-cooked as in well done, but medium rare, nice thickness, then add your own twist to it. And then the trick is to have a really hot pan with butter and olive oil. Really hot, the hottest it can get so you won't have to turn your steak over so many times. You'll get it nice and crusty, and then a little bit raw inside. And then maybe make your own herbed butter and put it on top. Something nice, super simple. I think it's sexy when a girl knows how to cook meat properly, any kind of meat.

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Launch the gallery to see behind-the-scenes photos from our shoot!

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