The Press Comes To Lunch (Part I)…


I must say a huge thank you to readers and friends of, for doing such an incredible job of letting their friends and even the press know about Zubuchon, the retail lechon experiment of the crew in Cebu. Apparently, one of marketmanila’s regular readers has sent several kilos of the lechon to friends, amongst them writers for local Cebu papers, and that resulted in a nearly HALF PAGE feature (with color photo) in the Cebu Daily News last Tuesday! Written by Jude A. Bacalso, she very generously described the lechon as a “crackling, lemongrassy success” and went further to say “those in the know whisper conspiratorially about (the lechon), and line up patiently for” only some of the two lechons that are sold each Sunday. I happened to be at the Cebu office last Tuesday, and the phones started ringing off the hook, with folks wondering where to buy the lechon if it wasn’t a Sunday… and only later did we realize there was a mention in the local paper! The crew were thrilled. It doesn’t get better than this for a four week old venture…


Or doesn’t it? Last weekend, another regular Cebu-based reader texted to say one of the writers from another Cebu daily would like to feature the lechon and I said they could come by for lunch on Wednesday so they could photograph and taste the roast pig(s). One thing quickly led to another, and the sole visitor had turned into a dozen guests, including every major daily in Cebu, their photographers, a local magazine, and Joan (a regular reader) and the senior managers of a new global hotel chain opening in the city later this year! Gil Carandang (of Herbana Farms) and his lovely wife happened to be in Cebu, so I invited them to join us as well. So as soon as I arrived in Cebu on Tuesday, I changed into market shoes, headed off to the Carbon in a downpour, and sloshed around the muddy market to get ready for a lechon lunch on the next day!


We cook the lechons at our office premises, a large, mostly empty lot near the center of Cebu city. We don’t normally host lunch or dinner guests here, so its a bit of effort to pull off lunch for a dozen. I even realized the night before we only had 6 matching plates and cutlery! So the table setting you see here is what you get when you don’t have much time, and you suddenly have to feed a crowd…


We put a long custom-made mahogany picnic table out on the driveway/garage as heavy rains had rendered the lawn way too muddy. Flower vases were “carved out” of unusually shaped upo or gourds. Yellow orange roses were stuck into small pieces of floral foam lodged in the upo. After the meal, the majority of the upo was still fine for cooking and eating… We cut banana leaves and laid them on the center of the table, added bunches of fresh unripe sampaloc or tamarind, and some green and orange foxfaces and used the white plates (the only plates we had), bowls, etc. This is pretty much the best we could do with a day’s warning… :)


And it didn’t cost an arm and a leg either. Upo were roughly PHP25 each. Roses were PHP30 per bunch. Sampaloc was PHP5 per bundle. And all of the foxfaces were PHP40. The banana leaves were free. :) Next up, the menu and the guests… A huge thank you to F&MB for going out of their way to invite most of the guests to the Wednesday lunch, the crew and I really appreciate it. A special mention to readers who have also put it on their facebooks in Cebu, as the word is certainly spreading faster than the crew could have ever imagined! The crew will try to bring one extra Zubuchon this Sunday so that they can serve as many customers who show up as possible. Maraming salamat.


67 Responses

  1. Zubuchon (insert registered TM sign here, haha!) is going places! Congratulations to Marketman and the crew! Acupunctured lechon is an idea whose time has come! :-)

  2. Woohoo! Congratulations to the crew! Nothing speaks better of the product than the product itself and its reception. This only proves that Zubuchon is in a class all its own. The table looks great! Simple, classy, native and inexpensive.

  3. I think the table looks chic and well-thought out. Congrats to the crew on all the success! My great-uncle used to be the director of the Sacred Heart School in Cebu, and I have told him all about the great new option for lechon.

  4. Great table setting MM! So ingenious and resourceful! Congrats with the impromtu press launch of Zubuchon, hope you open one here in San Juan / Manila too :)

  5. Zubuchon Inc. :) !!! More power to your crew…One piece of advice to your crew don’t push for qty instead maintain the quality.

    I wish i can be there in cebu to try it too…. just to get a pinch of the zubuchon crispy skin. Hmmmm……why not a weekend in cebu? it’s only 4 hrs away from Singapore.

  6. The table setting looks great and the idea to use upo as a vase is ingenious! Ü

    This is a very inspiring story…Congratulations to you and your crew MarketMan, and I wish the venture more success!

  7. Love the table setting and the ingenious way to use local products!!! are the chairs antiques? just so love those caned chairs, remind me of my grandma’s furniture.

  8. Congrats to your crew MM. BTW, what is that fruit/veg right of the upo in photo 4? Can it be eaten or just for decorations?

  9. Congratulations Zubuchon crew & MM – a feat rare & well done! Your “in a pinch” lay out looks really great – casual-grand! Kudos to all!

  10. Excellent! I just love the table arrangements. Very innovative. Your Zubuchon will take off.

  11. I recognize the chairs, circa 1950’s narra, made by Tinong, Lola’s inhouse carpenter who really was a gifted furniture maker. He later joined his daughter in the US and died outside Chicago. I wish I still had the custom cake stands he made for me in the 60’s.
    Table setting looks very chic, Robert Isabel would be jealous if he were still alive. Amazing what can be done with what is locally available.
    You should go to the next Food Bloggers convention led by David Lebovitz. Hey, you could be the featured guest speaker since you are now the most recognized lechonero in the world!

  12. Congratulations, MM and your crew ! I love your unique table settings. I wish I can taste the famous Zubuchon, anyways I will be marketing it to all balikbayans who are returning back there this holiday seasons. More success in your new venture.

  13. Congratulations, MM! Great and very creative setup. Can’t wait for the menu you served. Grrrrrr… green with envy! (“,)

  14. Congratulations, MM and crew, on getting the acclaim you deserve. Bowled over by the simple elegance of the upo-flowers. I suspect there are many of us who want to imitate this and will wipe out the supply of upo in the market this weekend. :-)

  15. It’s good karma coming back to you. Congratulations! I think it all looks great, despite the fact you put it all together kinda last minute.

  16. Oh, my goodness! …that is so awesome! I think Bobby Flay will be knocking on your crew’s door pretty soon!…you’ll never know!!!!

  17. Hey MM why not do it here in Manila as well? I am sure your Metro Manila fans would surely make this a big success.

  18. MM, wow !
    Great table setting, di halata na was it just a day’s notice.
    You truly are a renaissance man. =)

  19. Lee, the first bite of the crispylicious skin was dedicated to you and Joey P. (totoo!) It was like being in an EB again but feeling a bit incomplete without you guys. As I said time and time again, I wish all the readers could have been there to experience and taste the Zubuchon. “Nothing like it in the world”, according to my expat bosses, and these guys have been to a lot of countries and have tried different cuisines. MM is also blessed to have such a gracious crew, making this lunch an unforgettable, lip-smacking lechon experience for us. Daghang salamat Artisan! Thank you, thank you MM and crew!

  20. Congrats MM and crew. The table setting is truly fantastic. Cebu is now part of our vacation plan – just because of the re-invented lechon. Got to taste it. All those lechon experimentations are all worth it!

  21. Flowers in upo, what a great idea! I thought they were buko in the first picture. How did those gourds turn out so plump and melonlike?
    Vanessa in Germany said it first, but I do recommend you trademark or copyright (whichever legal term is the appropriate one for the lechon) the name MM. C’s in Pampanga first came out with the panizza, but there are other people making the same thing now. Last thing your crew want to worry about is having other people saying they make the Zabuchon in Manila.

  22. The upo itself is a nice food too! canned sardines + upong ginisa is simple but delicious food..

  23. love the roses in the upo gourds. very creative! i can only imagine how fab your table setting will be (and ive come across them in previous posts) if you had more time. as Sister says, puedeng panlaban sa setups of the late robert isabell.

  24. hi mm, always been a lurker, but this time, can’t resist saying something about the table setting. it’s very refreshing & so outdoorsy! you’re one creative / resourceful heck of a guy! congratulations. hope that your very eager readers (or at least us here in manila =P) get to experience that most sought-after pig!

  25. Almost 3 years ago to the day, I did some milflores in kalabasa, or hydrangeas in squash vases, here. You may want to go back to that post if this one amused you…

  26. really like your mahogany table and those antique chairs which bring back memories of my childhood. and the table setting is simply beautiful..thinking out of the box…
    wish i could taste and share with my family your zubuchon… maybe next year? and thanks for the edit feature!!! made typo mistakes and was able to correct it. way to go MM!!!

  27. Congratulations to the crew! MM, I love the flower arrangements. The chairs look well made, well used, well loved, and well cared for.

  28. lovely table arrangement MM, if I happen to be working on a boat that cruises the tropics again i will replicate this arrangement..

  29. Hi MM,
    How many kilos would one Zubuchon lechon yield? ( the one you cook during Sunday )

    Hope to drop by soon.

  30. I grew up having LECHON as a staple during Sunday lunches… Today was no different… Although BTC was kinda out of my way, I purposely went there to get my taste of Zubochon… What can I say?… IT DEFINITELY IS THE BEST LECHON I’VE EVER TASTED!!! :-)

    (been a “lurker” in this site for years now and this is the first time I’ve ever posted a comment,,, must be the lechon… hehehe… it really is that good! ‘be ordering a whole one for my nephew’s bday next sunday…)

  31. congratulations on the zubuchon buzz and all through word of mouth no less. the table setting looks chic. great idea for using upo for the roses. will have to try this myself sometime.

  32. Thanks all for your nice thoughts… we all appreciate it. greza, glad to hear you REALLY liked the zubuchon. They sold out all 50+ kilos they brought today. Alexis, you can get different sizes of zubuchon, but for me a 30-35 kilo live weight pig yields a roughly 13+ kilo cooked weight zubuchon, and that has the nice skin, some fat, but not humongous layers of fat common in very large lechons. For a home or personal order, try to stick to the 30-40 kilo live weight range, unless you need to feed a very large group of guests! Kristine, at this point, it is only available at BTC on Sundays and thorough special order by the whole lechon. Angela and bearhug, the mahogany table was just made a couple of weeks ago to my specs, and is roughly 12 feet long. It is meant to be an outdoors picnic table. But we haven’t gotten around to the benches yet. The chairs are leftovers from my grandparents home/businesses and were all made by their in-house carpenter using narra wood. They are very sturdy and still in great shape.

  33. I realy like the chairs, especially the woven seat. Is it original Filipino design?. Many TV soaps from channel 7 & 2 always have that kind of woven chair.

  34. Have never seen upo like that. Very interesting! Looks great. Anyway we can order that lechon here in Manila?:-)

  35. Ingrid, sorry for the late answer, the light green “fruit” in the fourth photo is called fox face or “mickey mouse” by local flower vendors, I don’t know their scientific names. And no, they aren’t edible. They are typically used in floral arrangements. Bubut et al, no eyeballs in the near future unfortunately…

  36. love everything, as usual. MM, will be in cebu this weekend, and hope to be able to get some zubuchon.

  37. MM – congrats to your business adventure. just shows that you can never get a good product down. when i saw your floral arrangement using the upo, i immediately thought i already saw that arrangement sa Better Homes and Gardens magazine here in the U.S. so nothing original, i thought. pero when you replied and posted a link to your earlier arrangements 3 years ago, then it dawned on me na baka sa iyo nangopya ang BH&G dahil their presentation was just in last year’s publication (Oct 2008, to be exact)!! I wish I can have a piece of that lechon! Unfortunately, if and ever I go home, Cebu is far from Olongapo – my hometown… Special trip na lang? Maybe……..

  38. Nice table setting, Mr. Marketman. I wish it was always like this at all Filipino parties. Most Filipinos prefer to invite the entire town and serve buffet style with food that had already turned cold.

  39. Moni….Millet will be in Cebu this weekend. You better make it here too. Both of you will be happy to be here this weekend…I promise!!!

  40. I actually love the table setting! I was just wondering how to recreate it here. Hmmm… have to look at other vegies for vase. Great idea there MM!



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