Finally, award-winning chef Josh Boutwood opens his own restaurant
Josh Boutwood is something else. The 30-year-old is the corporate chef of The Bistro Group, one of the country's biggest restaurant enterprises, but he still generously extends himself to other projects, like cooking at Madrid Fusion Manila's regional lunches and contributing recipes to food magazines. He admits that he thrives better in pressure and welcomes challenges so much that if he could, he'd invite them to over for dinner and cook them a full-blown degustation.
Chef Josh has bagged golds, silvers, and bronzes at the World Food Expo's Philippine Culinary Cup of the World. At this point; he has been awarded Chef of the Year twice. In 2016, at the Food Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge in Singapore, he won three medals, including a gold. At this point, he has nothing else to prove—except maybe that he can do more. So much more. It's probably one of the reasons why, despite everything on his proverbial plate, he decided to open a restaurant that would be entirely his own.
The Test Kitchen showcases not only his superb cooking, but also his ease in managing a business—something not all chefs can do. Certainly, handling 14 casual dining brands and managing an army of over a thousand chefs—a nightmare for something like him who fusses over the littlest things—taught him a thing or two.
The Test Kitchen is long overdue. It's been four years since he closed Alchemy in Boracay and people have been waiting for that signature Boutwood flair.
The newly opened, reservations-only restaurant features two communal tables located just off the open kitchen. He can accommodate 22 guests a night, each treated to a six to eight course menu at a relaxed pace and casual service. “We are not a fine dining restaurant,” Josh affirms. “We like to call ourselves 'sophisticated dining'.” Emphasis is put on the ingredients instead. “I rarely put more than three on a plate, but we maximize each one's potential by employing multiple techniques.”
In-house-cured Duck and Cabbage
40-Day Dry Aged Beef, Artichoke, Celery
Surf and Earth: Salmon, Pickle, Dill
The chef's compulsion to do more is never far off and he changes the menu every day. What does he do with life's proverbial lemons? He'd probably make lemon curry for poached seabass and salted cucumber. This sophisticated dining is a showcase of the seemingly simple but surprisingly complex. Dishes that he's particularly proud of, he admits, do make it back to the menu eventually.
Every dish starts with the beautifully crafted plating, but then you take that first bite. How can the fewest ingredients do so much and so well? Chef Josh is something else, but his food? Even more.
The Test Kitchen is at 9780 Kamagong Street, San Antonio, Makati City; contact 0917-304-1570.