The Party Tray King Has Finally Emerged From the Shadows

The Party Tray King Has Finally Emerged From the Shadows


Chef N openly shares his redemption story that comes in the form of Illo’s Party Trays

Growing up, Nino Rovillos, now more commonly known as Chef N, was a very creative and whimsical kid. During his free time, he would dress up and pretend to be a knight in shining armor that had to save the damsel in distress, imagine that their living room floor had a life-threatening challenge he must overcome to reach the locked-up tower, and so much more. Needless to say, he let his artistry and individuality run wild. With a childhood made up of wonder and adventure, it was inevitable that Chef N’s future endeavors would also have its fair share of luck and trials that got him to create one of his latest masterpieces–Illo’s Party Trays.

A family legacy

A child’s journey towards his or her bright future always begins at home. In Chef N’s case, both his parents were pros in the kitchen, with a baker and restaurateur for a mother and a father, respectively. Food solidified the bond between him and his family, which led him to enter university as a culinary student. For Chef N, cooking became more than just a hobby despite not having the intention of developing it into something more. “I cook because this is what I enjoy, and I did not really think it is something that I will earn from,” he said. For his life-long passion, motivation, and love for food, he has his parents to thank for.

Riding the culinary wave

After gaining the educational experience and knowledge he needed, Chef N finally ventured into his first major enterprise–La Grand Gourmet. The international fine dining restaurant offered Chef N’s preferred cuisines and dishes, but upon noticing that Filipinos weren’t keen on splurging on gourmet food, they transitioned into running a bar and grill to go along with the hype at the time. However, that also led to its shutdown in 2013. Disheartened by the realities of his culinary career, Chef N took a pause from the world of food as he and his wife Anne decided to go a different route towards property development that eventually didn’t come out in their favor as well. With all of life’s twists and turns, which included the devastating passing of his dad, Chef N simply said, “I was crushed, minced, and pounded all at the same time. All I could remember was being numb.”

To the highest of highs

Seeing as things weren’t going his way, Chef N knew he had to take a step back and try to remember his true passion–food. In December of 2019, he and a small group of people made a curated party menu that they merely posted online. As time went on, their following grew so much more than they expected. This venture then became what is now known as Illo’s Party Trays, their ghost kitchen business. Through the power of social media, Chef N and his team garnered hundreds of positive reviews where everyone was just raving about the impeccable quality of each dish they made.

Life’s silver lining

Once the pandemic hit the Philippines in early 2020, Chef N had no intentions of getting left behind. He and his wife made the quick move of navigating their way around the nationwide crisis by emphasizing the significance of spending more time with family by celebrating life everyday. Looking back at how food circled his family’s relationship with one another, Chef N wanted to share the same experiences with families from all over with the help of Illo’s Party Trays. This was indeed his version of a silver lining, his own kind of redemption, which catapulted his brand into a household name just more than a year into the business, making him the ultimate Party Tray King.

To know more about Chef N and Illo’s Party Trays, visit their website, Facebook, and Instagram.

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