Gen. T Dining

Spotlight

April 18, 2018 | BY Isabel Martel Francisco

Philippine Tatler’s Generation T lists (2016 and 2017) are jam-packed with talent, many of whom are culinary and restaurateur geniuses. They are unafraid of challenges, very inquisitive, constantly trying new things and pushing boundaries. Meet these industry leaders and creative minds who are shaping the local food scene

1

BRUCE RICKETTS

Ricketts is quite the sensation. At only 28, this restaurateur has made stellar contributions to the Filipino culinary scene with his impressive palate. He is the chef behind Mecha Uma, Sensei Sushi, Ooma, and La Chinesca.

Best Restaurants Guide (BRG): Why and how did you get involved in the food industry?
Bruce Ricketts: I got involved in the food industry by accident. I just looked for a job in the kitchen.

BRG: Favourite cuisine to cook and to eat?
BR: Mexican and Japanese.

BRG: What is your favourite country as a culinary destination?
BR: Japan.

BRG: If it was your last meal on earth, what would your ideal three-course dinner be made up of?
BR: The soy-marinated tuna of Amano-san (the chef of Tenzushi), my wife’s pasta that I constantly crave for, and over-ripened plum and peaches, the ones that are so over-ripe they’re ready to burst in your mouth!

BRG: What is your favourite part about being a chef?
BR: The freedom to express what you feel by translating it onto a plate and serving it to customers.

BRG: What is the most challenging part?
BR: Restraint and accepting that not everything you believe in is what customers will always like.

SCROLL TO CONTINUE
Gen. T Dining
2

JOSH BOUTWOOD

Boutwood is the corporate executive chef of the Bistro Group and chef-cum-owner of the much talked-about The Test Kitchen. He has won PCC Best Chef 2013-14 and National Culinary Team of the Philippines awards. Boutwood was also a chef presenter for the recently concluded Madrid Fusion Manila 2017.

BRG: Why and how did you get involved in the food industry?
Josh Boutwood: It's a family trade, although it wasn’t my ultimate desire, yet I fell in love and got hooked.

BRG: What is the biggest lesson you have learnt from your career in F&B thus far?
JB: Failure is all around, it's just a matter of perspective that defines the depth of it.

BRG: If it was your last meal on earth, what would your ideal three-course dinner be made up of?
JB: I am a simple person, so I would have to ensure bacon is on the table, a Big Mac, and perhaps an eton mess!

BRG: Favourite cuisine to cook and to eat?
JB: To cook: what I do, taking the simplest of ingredients and working with them until they reach optimum flavour and texture. To eat: I love Italian, it's a great family style of food that fits my personal life.

3

ERIC THOMAS DEE

Through his F&B hive company, Foodee Global Concepts, of which Dee is Managing Director, he has opened Todd English Food Hall, FOO'D by Davide Oldani, Mesa Filipino Moderne, along with Todd English establishments namely Pound, Hook, and Flatterie. Ramen Tsuta and Hawker Chan are new additions to their portfolio while Mesa Filipino Moderne opened its first branch in Los Angeles.

BRG: What is the biggest lesson you have learnt from your career in F&B thus far?
Eric Thomas Dee: F&B isn't as glamorous as some people make it to be. It's tough, but I'm glad I love what I do. As the saying goes, "Do something you love and you won't work a day in your life." This I truly believe.

BRG: If it was your last meal on earth, what would your ideal three-course dinner be made up of?
ETD: I have a Chinese stomach and will always go back to comfort food. This won't be courses per se—sweet and sour pork done right, live steamed fish with soy ginger scallion and cilantro, and yang chow fried rice.

BRG: Favourite country as a culinary destination and why?
ETD: I recently took a road trip from Madrid to Barcelona and spent some time in San Sebastián and a few side stops at Zaragoza, Bilbao, and Burgos. It was lifechanging, and now Spain is my favourite country to tour. Spanish food has its similarities with Filipino food, thus making it very palatable especially for Asian stomachs. Not once did I look for Asian food when I was in Spain.

SCROLL TO CONTINUE
Gen. T Dining
4

AARON ISIP

Isip is an internationally recognised Chef de Cuisine, who is artfully crafting his way to the top. His smart flavour combinations are what won him the Chef Espoir 2015 for Île de France by renowned guide, Gault et Millau. Isip’s restaurant in Paris, Dix-Huit, was named as one of the best restaurants by Le Figaro in 2014. He was recognised by the TV show Très Très Bon, received two Toques from the Gault et Millau guide 2015, and is listed in the Michelin Guide.

BRG: How do you think you have evolved as a chef? How has your cooking evolved?
Aaron Isip: My palate has evolved immensely over the years, through extensive eating and travelling. Whenever I travel to a new place, I try to discover the local food as much as I can. If I can, I try to do a cooking course to learn more of the local cuisine's flavours. This teaches me how to create new flavour combinations that I was never used to before. I honed my cooking techniques through more than a decade of intense work under some of the best chefs in France, but I think what's more important is how I found my own style of cooking and flavour profile. My cooking now is more true to what flavours I enjoy rather than following what I learnt from my previous mentors. My travels have remarkably shaped my style of cooking.

BRG: What do you look forward to doing with your cooking now that you are based in the Philippines?
AI: I am looking forward to using more of our local produce, especially the bounty of our seas and our diverse tropical fruits.

BRG: If you could cook any other cuisine what would it be and why?
AI: Probably Vietnamese-Thai. I really love the use of fresh herbs in Vietnamese cuisine and the mastery of mélange and balance of flavours in Thai cuisine.

BRG: Do you have a favourite ingredient?
AI: Yes, patis (fish sauce). It's the essence of umami.

BRG: I know this is a tough question, but if it was your last day on earth, and you were allowed to have a three-course meal as your last meal ever, what would you have?
AI: Wow, this is tough. But I would have to say: The perfect kinilaw (ceviche) as my starter, Belon oysters would be a big contender, too; my favourite BoBun as my main dish; a cheese platter from some of the best fromageries in France, served with bread from, say, Pain et des idées in Paris as my dessert course.

5

IAN PARADIES

Formerly involved with shipping, Paradies, a massive beer lover transitioned to beermaking of the craft micro-brewery kind. He set up Napa Gapa Beverages Corporation, of which he is president. He is responsible for the booming Engkanto beer phenomenon and new hot spot, Polilya.

BRG: What important lesson have you learnt thus far since the launch of Engkanto and your venture into the restaurant/bar world with Polilya?
Ian Paradies: Despite the difficulties you face along the way when putting up a new business, no matter what that business is, all the blood, sweat, and tears are worth it when you are chasing your dreams. Doing what you love makes work so much easier and more fun... Plus, I now get a lifetime's worth of free beer.

BRG: Why did you enter the F&B industry?
IP: It started off with an idea of putting up a brewery. I have always loved beer (it has been my drink of choice since I started drinking) and I felt there was a real opportunity in the market. For the longest time we have had a limited number of options when it came to beer products. With a very young (and large) market that is much more adventurous and demanding of quality products, I felt there was space for a new craft beer that was still very price conscious. And from Engkanto came the idea to put up a bar space where we could showcase our beers... but with the involvement of my wife, Sandra, and entry of my sister, Nina, and cousin, Alex as partners, the idea became much more than just showcasing our beers. We wanted to create a real  experience for our customers, something we feel wasn't present yet in Manila, and a space where anyone would feel comfortable. That is how Polilya came about.

BRG: Favourite cuisine to eat? Favourite type of beer?
IP: For food, I am still a huge junk food fan: burgers, pizzas, chicken wings, fries, onion rings, etc. Perfect beer food. When it comes to beer, I am a huge lager fan. Me being Filipino and spending the majority of my life in the tropics... I love light, crisp beers as they are easier to drink with our weather and the heat.

SCROLL TO CONTINUE
Gen. T Dining
6

MIKO ASPIRAS

With all that this pastry pioneer and chef has achieved, you would never guess that he is only 30 years old. Aspiras is a key part of these oh-so-popular concepts: The Workshop, Le Petit Soufflé, Scout’s Honor, Ping Pong Diplomacy, and Freezer Burn. He has also won multiple international culinary competitions and has been a chef presenter at Madrid Fusion Manila.

BRG: What influenced you to become a part of the culinary world? What is it that you love about food/dessert?
Miko Aspiras: I guess it all started when I woke up to the smell of burnt cookies. I went  down to the kitchen and saw my Tita Annie baking, she was getting frustrated with some mistakes, but ended up making something really very good. She made me taste it… I was so fascinated by what she was doing, some were successful; some were not. I wondered how this was happening, how she was making something out of nothing, and concocting all these flavours. I was six then.

BRG: What are your top three favourite countries for desserts?
MA: Japan, Australia (Sydney and Melbourne) and here, the Philippines. 

BRG: What do you cook for yourself when you are at home?
MA: I love canned corned beef with garlic rice, and runny eggs!

BRG: What would you like to tell people when they are eating your food/desserts? What is your vision for dessert in the Philippines?
MA: I want everyone to feel my passion for desserts. I want Filipinos to treat dessert like a gift for themselves, a little treasure. We have to move on from the idea of pasalubong desserts. With the growing amount of stress we experience every day, we all deserve to indulge as often as possible. We have to start treating desserts as something we look forward to!

7

JP ANGLO

After honing his skills at Le Cordon Bleu, Anglo opened several restaurant concepts like Sarsa, Mai Pao and Mu Shu, and Liberation Shawarma. Rockin' the culinary world, he stars in a travel and food TV show where he effortlessly showcases both Filipino culture and cuisine.

BRG: What is it that you love about food?
JP Anglo: I love flavours and textures and the way food makes me feel. I love that food can make or break your day; it can really affect your mood. It’s such a big part of our lives in that way.

BRG: If it was your last meal on earth, what three courses would you have?
JA: Hmmm. I would absolutely have a bucket of the freshest oysters from all over the world, then the best lechon in the Philippines, a delicious suckling pig cooked by the best lechoñero, stuffed with fantastic local ingredients. For the last course, I would probably have an entire paellera of paella because who cares about eating carbs on your last day on earth, right?

BRG: Any advice on how to properly appreciate a meal?
JA: Do not rush. Eat slowly so you can taste every flavour and feel all the textures. You need to appreciate the food and the dining experience. Pay attention to your food. Don’t let things mix and mingle—let food and dishes stand on their own to shine, to be able to truly appreciate it.

BRG: Tell us a about your TV show, Hungry with Chef JP? What do you enjoy about it?
JA: It is a passion project. It combines my loves in life. We go to great surf spots and cook Filipino food inspired by the location, the ingredients and the local styles. We all learn from each other. It is very spontaneous. They show me their traditional methods and then we do our own interpretation. I love to show these communities we visit that they can elevate their food with their everyday market ingredients. I want people in these small towns to be encouraged to think outside the box.

SCROLL TO CONTINUE
Gen. T Dining
8

ABBA NAPA

Co-founder of The Moment Group, Napa along with her two partners, has breathed life into a mix of fine to casual dining original concepts such as Manam, Cue, 8 Cuts, Phát Pho, as well the hip watering hole, Bank Bar. TMG is also behind the fine-dining Mecha Uma and responsible for bringing in mega global concepts like Din Tai Fung.

BRG: Why and how did you get involved in the food industry?
Abba Napa: The very first time was actually around seven years before we founded Moment. It was a small marketing and development role for my dad’s restaurants at the time. Two years into the job he gently pointed out that I was no longer a start-up entrepreneur and I should do some real work for the restaurants if I was to continue to enjoy free meals.

By that time I had fallen in love with the industry—it was an easy yes. However, I finally learnt how challenging it really was to be in the hospitality business. A few years later I actually vowed to myself that it was a space I would not return to.

I soon discovered that it’s very difficult to stay away from something you love. I couldn’t bring myself to say no. And we’ve been falling down the rabbit hole since.

BRG: If it was your last meal on earth, what would your ideal three-course dinner be?
AN: I’m not a sweet tooth and since it is my last meal, I’m rationalising to myself that it does not have to make sense. Hence, it would be: One ball of Burrata all to myself, really good olive oil, flakey sea salt, chocolate cherry tomatoes, a solid balsamic crema and hot charred crusty bread; Char kway teow from Penang (with cockles); and a tie between my dad’s red wine oxtail stew and my mum’s wonton wrapper-based (pastaless) Garfield-y lasagna. Nostalgia can't be beat.

BRG: Favourite country as a culinary destination?
AN: If I had to pick, it would have to be Italy. I was surrounded by Italian food and Italian chefs growing up. Their epicurean ways have definitely shaped the way I relate to food. n

Related Stories

The Holiday Feast for Vegetarians, Pescatarians, And Keto Enthusiasts

December 10, 2018 | BY Philippine Tatler

photo_library

50 Groundbreaking Gastronomes From Around Asia

November 22, 2018 | BY Oliver Giles, Madeleine Ross, and Rachel Duffel

photo_library

How Clare Smyth's Restaurant Core Is Changing The British Cuisine Game

November 20, 2018 | BY Melissa Twigg

A Preview Of Hilton Manila’s Dining Outlets

October 18, 2018 | BY Sharmaine Uy

The Garage: Where Food And Virtual Reality Meet

October 11, 2018 | BY Sharmaine Uy

Dining by Design: 4 Restaurants With Commendable Interiors

September 5, 2018 | BY Philippine Tatler