Any dietary restrictions we should be aware of? That’s always one thought that crosses my mind when we host large dinners on the Zubuchon private terrace in Cebu. It’s typically a set menu, and obviously pork-centric, so we do need to be aware of any special requirements well in advance. National Bookstore has hosted several dinners for visiting authors who come to Cebu to sign books and meet fans, and Mitchell David (Mitch) Albom was their latest guest. I hadn’t read any of his books, but apparently he is quite a phenomenon and has sold over 35 million books worldwide and is a long-staying member on the New York Times Bestselling list. Before becoming an author, he was a journalist and television newscaster. Their scheduled dinner, for 20, was slated for a Sunday.
On Friday, a good friend of ours from Boston mentioned that Mr. Albom might not eat pork, a result of religious or dietary restrictions. I went into a minor panic, and texted the hosts to find out if there were any dietary considerations. They responded on Saturday, a day before the event, that he had requested some chicken and a salad, and his wife was vegetarian. Yipes. Seriously, at a lechon feast? Clearly, some adjustments had to be made. To make a long story short, we had the full lechon feast, but altered several of the dishes to make them vegetarian friendly. We also put some chicken inasal on the grill, added some mixed grilled vegetables, a tossed green salad and at the last minute, mushrooms, tofu and bokchoy cooked in clay pots. The latter was a hit, and they ate two pots of the mushroom special. Extremely gracious guests, the Albom’s seemed to enjoy their dinner and drinks (the kamias shakes were a hit!), and managed to overcome jet lag from a long transpacific flight two days before. The group stayed until late that evening. The next morning, the Albom’s flew to Tacloban to see the damage caused by the storm and to provide assistance for rebuilding school libraries.