Dining

Josh Boutwood, Executive Chef of The Bistro Group, Is Manila's Chef of the Moment

English-born, Spanish-bred, and Filipino in his heart and soul, Josh has proven that he knows a thing or two about quality, consistency, and running a large-scale food business.
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It is his private dining room, The Test Kitchen, that has brought Josh Boutwood into the culinary limelight. This month, he opens a new eatery in Poblacion that promises to bring out the “savage” in all of us.

I dropped out of cooking school in Spain after two months because I was extremely bored. I grew up with parents who owned restaurants and I felt I was being taught things that I already knew from working in my mum’s kitchen through the years. Needless to say, when my mother realized that I dropped out, she was very disappointed. The next day I packed my bags and headed to the United Kingdom to begin an apprenticeship at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. 

Working at Noma opened my eyes to a whole new world. My experience of working there changed the way I looked at food, but it was at Svaneholm Slott in Sweden where I honed my skills and technique, while still managing to integrate them into a modern style of cooking.

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I am a “selectionist” and only use products when I feel they are at their prime. I do not complicate an ingredient to mask its true flavor and prefer to let it speak for itself. When an ingredient is prime, I may choose to use it while its flavor is at its peak or even until it becomes weak or faint. I put great emphasis on local products but choose not to be bound by them. Although my personal style of cuisine is ingredient-driven, my dishes are usually comprised of only three major ingredients.

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Savage is going to be the bastard brother of The Test Kitchen. He is rough around the edges, not serious at all, and will only serve small plates. A perfect fit in the Poblacion neighborhood, everything served will be pre-industrial, meaning nothing will be cooked using gas. Grilling and roasting will be the cooking methods of choice.


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Dishes from Boutwood's recently opened The Test Kitchen

We are on the cusp of something unimaginable. Manila has created an epicenter that can rival any other country’s capital when it comes to food and cuisine. The rivalry between chefs here is close to nonexistent and everyone wants the other to succeed. I have never experienced that anywhere else in the world. The evolution of the Philippine dining scene can only be predicted by the restaurateurs’ and chefs’ capacity to create new concepts. I have no doubt that we are going to be the center for culinary destinations very soon, if we are not already.

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Alicia Colby Sy
Executive Editor
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