Inspiring Women

Inspiring Woman: Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi

August 21, 2016

Stephanie Zubiri portrait by Magic Liwanag

Writer, host, chef, and traveler, Stephanie Zubiri-Crispi has her plate and days full. These days you’ll either find her hosting her television show, writing her weekly column, updating her blogs, planning (or embarking on) her next trip, or entertaining at home.

All this busy-ness does not take her away from spending quality time and enjoying both big and small moments with the people she loves the most: her two sons, Sebastian and Maximilian, and husband Jonathan.

Let’s get to know Stephanie a lit bit more in our Inspiring Woman Q and A :

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What else don’t we know about Stephanie Zubiri – Crespi?

I think I am many parts to a whole.

There’s no doubt that when I became a mother, this role has become a very big part of my life, more importantly changing the way I live it. I strive every day to live a life with meaning and purpose, to keep things balanced, to really take pleasure in all the little things and to really value people and experiences over material things. I want to be there not only for my kids but also for my husband. We really make an effort to spend quality time together and go on our own little escapes just the two of us.

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Then there is also the professional side that’s really important to me. Currently, I am a regular columnist for The Philippine Star, I host a TV show called Modern Living TV, I’m also a contributor for some international travel magazines like Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia and Mabuhay magazine. Once in a while, I do commissioned writing work, recipe development, and the occasional event hosting. On top of that, I manage two blogs: www.stephaniezubiri.com (SZC) and www.thegypsetters.net (TGN).

It sounds like a crazy whole lot—and it is! But I love my work and though at times impending deadlines can be nerve wracking, I can’t think of what else I would rather be doing!

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Tell us more about your blog, stephaniezubiri.com. Why did you set it up and where do you plan to take it?

The truth is I held off for a long time to set up SZC. I was happy doing the occasional post for TGN, which is purely a passion project and loads of fun.

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure what exactly I would put in my blog. But when the TV show started picking up, I would have these incredible interviews that had so much information, which, in the end, would get cut to about 5 minutes short. There was just so much out there that I felt I could share and needed an outlet for it.

It was also a good way for me to practice writing about other topics that piqued my interest that were outside my usual fields of food and travel, like design, wellness, or even beauty. The other reason was that I wanted to document my recipes so that one day I could finally write my book!

Stephanie Zubiri by Magic Liwanag

How do you differentiate your stories across your different media ventures?

First of all, the audiences are very different and so are their attention spans. TV is quite fast-paced and very visual. I love the dynamic and candid nature of a good interview so you have a real grasp of what the essence of the subject is.

My newspaper column has a sense of urgency (as we are always trying to print things that are current, like a new product, an event, an opening) there needs to be a “news-y angle”. Sometimes, I’ll also pen a more opinionated view on something but again I feel it should still be related to an issue that is timely.

For the site, however, I try to focus on topics that are “evergreen.” I want my posts to still be relevant even a few months or a year past—maybe there’s a lesson to be learned or a useful tip? Or a favorite recipe that you can go back to. I also like having very visual and inspiring content or fun quick lists that are easy to read.

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I love to travel! And it looks like you do too. Can you share some of your favorite memories?

Oh my! How can I choose? Each trip is just so special! One of my absolute favorite holidays was when my entire family spent two weeks in Tuscany to celebrate my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. Instead of throwing a lavish party, they treated all of us a stunning vacation we would never forget. My parents got remarried in a small chapel on top of a hill where the priest had asked each one of us children give them a special message and blessing. After that, we had a wonderful dinner on one of these long banquet tables overlooking the olive trees, neighboring vineyards, and the setting sun. We couldn’t have been happier—beautiful food, beautiful wine, and all the people I loved the most. The added bonus to this lovely trip was that at the end of that summer holiday was when Jonathan proposed to me in Paris.

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Another is when we went on our first trip as a family when Sebastian was only 3 months old. We visited my in-laws in the German countryside with this beautiful Indian summer, pre-fall weather. My husband and I were exhausted but in a state of absolute bliss. Long languid naps, never ending walks in the countryside through forests and wheat fields, homecooked garden-fresh food, and just the thrill that comes with being new parents.

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Where are you going next?

This coming November, my husband and I are escaping to India. It’s been my dream to go since high school. I’ve always been fascinated by Indian literature, food, and culture but have never had the opportunity to go. When I graduated high school, during the beginning of my gap year, I had planned to go backpacking around India. I had bought my backpack and ticket, signed up for some volunteer work and my mother who was so worried decided to come fly to Paris to stop me. That backpack still remains unused today. Finally, after all these years, I get to go.

You also have an affinity with food. Tell us about this – how does food feature in your daily life?

I used to simply love to eat—anything from junk food to caviar, tasting menus to market stalls. And while I still do, it’s a little bit different. Today I love to eat WELL. Eating well to me is not about eating luxuriously but more about trying to embrace a more wholesome and clean approach to food.

I used to go from event to event sometimes doing two tasting menus in a day for my column until I started to develop some health issues like high cholesterol and ulcers. It was a decadent lifestyle, one that was quite hard on the body. It was when I was pregnant where I became more aware of what goes into my body and the impact it can have.

I’m not a crazy health buff but I do adhere to this more European lifestyle: the best products possible, lots of fresh produce, and preferably homecooking. I love eating at home and inviting people over.

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If I do eat out I have become a bit more discerning and always ask myself “is it really so crazy good that it’s worth the calories and junky stuff?” And believe me, sometimes a good burger really hits the spot. But, in general, I like to clean yet hearty and with a lot of global influences. I love fresh herbs and spices!

Stephanie Zubiri Cooking by Magic Liwanag

Is food a big part of your parenting as well? Are you raising foodies?

I hope to raise kids that know the taste of quality. That if they want a cheesy, creamy lasagna they’ll say, “Oh, but it tastes better at home!” I want them to be adventurous in flavor and to just be curious to try things. They, of course, have the right not to like it but they must at least try. Circle back to me in another two years and I’ll let you know how it’s going!

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A lot of what you do puts you in the public eye. How do you manage having a public self and a private life? Do we (readers/public) really see the real you? Where do you draw the line?

I suppose I have nothing to hide and I try not to “over-curate” my public persona. I once read an article about how your IG feed should always have the same filter, the same look and feel… I become conscious of my haphazard feed! And tried to see what I could do but in the end I thought, Hey! But that’s really my life. Sometimes it’s Rise, other times it’s Lo-Fi, and every so often absolutely #NoFilter! No one has a perfect life, or the same mood, so in that way you can say I am pretty candid about my IG feed.

On Facebook, I do try to use it positively; to share or to interact with people, to contact them or share photos. I’m so averse to all these Facebook rants—why put all that anger out there? It is tempting and there is something strangely therapeutic about commiserating with the public but I really try to avoid that. I’d rather be a vector of positivity.

The older I get however, the more I want to keep the truly happy and special moments intimate. I used to share everything on my column. And although I get readers asking for more of the same articles I used to write about my personal trips or specific moments, in this day and age of over-sharing, I kind of want to keep the very best to myself.

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What’s life for you offline? Tell us something about your day-to-day. What keeps you busy that does not go on the blog, your column, or other public medium?

The nitty gritty household stuff: managing a leak or a broken refrigerator door, paying bills, diffusing domestic help drama, and doing accounting! We’re building our home and I can’t even begin to tell you what an overwhelming gargantuan task it is!

Exercise—although I do blog about my regimen every so often. I work my butt off trying to stay in shape. I’m not blessed with magical skinny genes like my sister-in-law, Audrey, who can eat a mountain of rice and not gain an ounce. If I want to stay in my skinny jeans I have to work out, minimum 3 to 5 times a week. It’s hard work but I’ve grown to accept it as a fact of life and love it.

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What do you have planned for the rest of the year? Anything exciting on the home/family/work front?

The arrival of Maximilian is such a big deal for all of us! We’re still adjusting to being a family of four but it’s loads of fun! We love his super positive energy and just looking forward to him getting a little bigger so he can really start hanging out with his older brother.

I’m currently taking my wine certifications, I just passed WSET Level 2 and now taking WSET Level 3 with the exam in October so I really hope I do well! It’s fun and frightening at the same time as we will be having a blind tasting at the end.

I’m also working on a book which I hope to release early next year. It’ll be all about entertaining at home with the added bonus of food and wine pairings. I hope everything will go as planned. Crossing fingers!

With a very busy daily schedule like yours, how do you balance your time between your work and your being wife and mummy?

Go with the flow! Some people are super Type A and have everything on a schedule and as much as I wish I were like this, I know I’m not. So while I do draw up a rough schedule for the week ahead and the month ahead, I try to stay flexible and spontaneous. Thankfully, my work allows me to do that. It’s been working so far!

On the other hand, how do you take care of yourself?

The most important is that I eat well and I sleep well. I also drink well! Haha! Life is too short to drink bad wine. That’s my stress reliever. They say wine is full of antioxidants, so there you go!

Kidding aside, I like to patronize my little old school parlor on a regular basis—mani-pedi, foot and back massage plus a shampoo-blowdry for under Php 1000. The best I’ve also been paying more attention to my skin and make sure that I always sleep with a clean face.

I recently found out that I have some grave vitamin deficiencies because I’m breastfeeding and have been either pregnant or nursing for the past three years. So Bio Balance has tailored made for me supplements and a specific food list to help get back on track. Sometimes, we really do need help from the experts!

I like to take the time to see my friends because I believe just being happy in general and finding joy in the every day is truly beneficial to your overall health.

Stephanie Zubiri Wine by Pau Guevarra

I always say that there’s a “Spoiled Mummy” in each of us. What do you think makes you, Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi, a Spoiled Mummy?

I think I’m a spoiled mummy because I get to live everyday with some source of joy and happiness—whether be it the rush after a good Zumba class, that first sip of your favorite wine after a harrowing deadline, an interview going really well, having a good conversation on the photo with my sister, a pasta lunch with my girlfriends, snuggling up next to my hubby to watch a new episode of our favorite series, getting the tightest hug ever from Sebastian, or seeing Maxi’s face light up when I walk into the room.

Lucky, lucky me. I’m truly grateful.

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