The Dinner Challenge


Featuring Charmaine Landicho Baechle

Photography by Shana Jade Trajanoska

Words by Aaron Peasley

Known for her legendary weekend gatherings, serial hostess Charmaine Landicho Baechle pulls out all the stops for Margot’s entertaining challenge.

The Dinner Challenge

The challenge: throw a festive weekend dinner party for 8 friends. Must feature superb food and wine, a chic mise en scène and follow a budget of $20 per guest.

An entertaining challenge that would overwhelm many of us was a mere stroll in the park for Charmaine Landicho Baechle, the director of New York City non-profit catering company City Beets. Lucky to procure an invitation, Margot arrived early to get the inside scoop on sparking culinary creativity, how to be an effortless host and the secrets of French and Filipino cooking.

For menu inspiration, Landicho Baechle keeps it personal, drawing on her Filipino heritage, her years growing up in Switzerland and more than two decades of adventures in New York City. “For the challenge, I incorporated my love for one-pot dishes, my Filipino background and my favorite French dessert so that the food would feel like a true reflection of myself.”

Charmaine Landicho Baechle wearing a pink blouse and sitting on a light blue couch in an outdoor sitting area

The Menu

Whipped Ricotta with Honey & Lemon Zest served with toasted baguette or/and crudité

Bringhe with Chicken and Chorizo (Filipino-style paella with coconut milk)

Romaine Salad with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette

Traditional Tarte Tatin sprinkled with Maldon Sea Saltserved with whipped cream

The Dinner Challenge

“Food has always been my obsession. The simplest meal can be a revelation with careful planning, personalized details, a good playlist and most importantly my favorite people."

Traditional Tart Tatin served with whipped cream next to various fruits on a leaf designed table cloth

Traditional Tart Tatin served with whipped cream

The Dinner Challenge

With a philosophy that food should always “awaken the senses,” Landicho Baechle chose a beloved dish that offers serious wow factor. “Bringhe is a Filipino-style paella with coconut milk, broth, and banana leaves,” Charmaine explains. “Its beauty is that it's a one-pot dish served straight from the skillet - you will wow your guests when you remove the banana leaves. They will delight in its colorful ingredients, fragrant smells and earthy flavor.”

Bringhe, Charmaine adds, can also be easily adapted for vegetarians. “I gravitate towards dishes that easily accommodate different food preferences,” she says. “The bringhe can easily be made vegetarian or even vegan by using vegetable stock and replacing meat with extra vegetables that add texture and flavor.”

The Dinner Challenge

“I like to set my table ahead of time,” said Landicho Baechle. “Perfection isn’t your goal, but having a pretty table sets the tone for the evening.”

The Dinner Challenge

Such considered and vibrant flourishes - a joyous combination of traditional technique and creative flair - extends to the non-edible components of the dinner party. The tablescape, anchored by an arrangement of vibrantly hued artichokes, is an elegant hodge-podge of antique glass and stemware, vibrant linens procured on travels and at local estate sales and other personal curios.

Perhaps the most laborious dish, and one met with the suitable amount of oohing and aahing, arrives last. An exquisite Tarte Tatin - the classic French upside down apple tart - appears warm and baked to a resplendent golden caramelized brown, apples formed in elegant concentric circles worthy of a storied Rive Gauche brasserie. As delicious as it is appealing to the eye, the sensational dessert is but one grace note in an affair overflowing with them.

The Dinner Challenge

Budget Breakdown

Food: $83.20
Decorations: $7.50

For the centerpiece, I skipped expensive flowers and got creative. I spotted beautiful colored artichokes at my local supermarket and arranged them with some extra lemons and chili peppers I had on hand. Fresh and fun (with more of the budget to spend on wine).

Wine/Beverages: $59.71
My husband knows good wine and he had the job of finding three good bottles.

Baguette: Carissa $6
Good quality bakery bread is always a good investment.




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I prefer making the pate brisée dough the day before and storing it in the fridge. You can also use ready-made pie dough or puff pastry, but you will not regret making your own. It's fun, and you will have earnt bragging rights.

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I like to make a batch of dressing for the week. Feel free to double the amount and store it in the fridge.

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"Bringhe is a Filipino- style paella. Its beauty is that it's a one-pot dish served straight from the skillet."

Read more