Chef Patrick Co of The Fat Cow Group on Starting Young and Going Full Speed Ahead in The Culinary Scene
This young chef is poised to take the culinary landscape by storm and he’s not planning on stopping anytime soon
For most of us, entering our 20s is like barely being out of the training wheels. Multiple paths suddenly open in front of us, free for the taking, leaving it to us whether we go through with it for the rest of our lives or restart in a different direction. The reality is, early adulthood is a collection of trials and errors.
For young chef and entrepreneur Patrick Co, the early years of his adulthood were not free from that experimental phase. But he remained headstrong and made sure that things went down on his own terms. Because by the young age of 20, Patrick had already found himself in charge of what was to become one of his successful business endeavors—The Fat Cow restaurant.
Where it all began
Before all the excitement in his 20s, Patrick’s love for cooking stretches all the way back to his adolescence. But his childhood playground consisted a lot less of seesaws and the heat of the sun but more of pots and pans.
“A big part of my childhood was me constantly looking forward to the weekends. I’d ‘play’ in the kitchen and whip up my own lunch. During family dinners on Sundays, we would go to a deli and I’d buy steaks from the counter. And then use that steak for my next experiment or recipe,” the young chef recalls his interest in the kitchen from as early as twelve years old.
Rather than watching cartoons and superheroes, Patrick spent his time with cooking shows. “As a kid, I was glued to the TV watching every cooking show by famous chefs like Giada De Laurentiis, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, and Wolfgang Puck. They eventually became my biggest influences. I’d copy whatever they do and put my spin on their recipes. I was obviously not successful every single time, but I had a lot of fun. And I got to explore more flavors,” he says.
Eventually, he had to enter the professional world and make a living for himself. The entrepreneur admitted that his first few jobs didn’t really work out for his favor, eventually giving him the idea to take matters into his own hands.
“I was so impatient and stubborn that I went straight to getting a job at a hotel. That didn’t work out. I got another job at a buffet restaurant. That also didn’t work out. After a series of job failures, it was clear to me that I was better off running my own business. And that’s what I did. After taking a short course at the Center for Asian Culinary Studies, the road was really straight towards building my first-ever restaurant which was The Fat Cow,” he explains.
The present to beyond
Now at 27, Patrick has expanded his business venture with the opening of The Asian Cow. Unique to Davao, his hometown, The Fat Cow and The Asian Cow are depicted as modern chef-driven bistros, wherein the chef has complete control over the menu or anything that happens within the restaurant.
“As a chef, this approach gives me the creative freedom to tell different stories through my food and introduce new flavors to my guests. Chef-driven restaurants stay creative. Sure, we have mainstays in our menu but we want to make sure every time you visit, there’s always a new flavor waiting for you to explore,” he says, explaining how his restaurants’ menus change from time to time, giving their patrons a sense of excitement and thrill each visit.
Apart from this special feat, Patrick also wanted to put a spotlight on his talented chefs and their culinary prowess with an open kitchen concept, with great reason as well.
“My family initially didn’t support the idea of me starting my restaurant. We’re Chinese, a little traditional, and my future was already set. Being a chef back then came with zero prestige, unlike being a doctor or a lawyer. It was hard to see the value of a profession that’s always hidden inside the kitchen,” he shares. That is why he chose an open kitchen layout for all of his restaurants. It’s a sort of stage for chefs, as they deserve a place where they can be seen.
“We get to showcase our abilities to our customers. The customers see their food being handled with care. We get to see our food being served straight to our customers’ tables. And hopefully, we see them enjoy it, as well,” the 27-year-old clarifies.
Opening two successful restaurants well before the age of 30 is already an outstanding feat. But with Patrick going full-speed into the culinary world, this is merely just the beginning for The Fat Cow Group. In fact, exciting things are in store in the near future and the young chef is optimistic for what’s ahead.
“It’s gonna be our take on modern Filipino cuisine, and it’s meant to be homey and family-centered. I’ve been so excited to share the news with you… It’s gonna be a surprise and I hope people support it,” he discloses.
People always comment on how it’s never too late to start on something you’re passionate about. But we have to remember that it’s never too early as well. No age can stop Patrick from reaching his dreams. Whether he may be in his 20s, 30s, or 40s, this young chef will continue to share his talents in the kitchen for everyone to enjoy.
Get to know more about the star chef by visiting his Instagram. You can also check out The Fat Cow Group through their website.
Photos by THE OTHER GUYS PH
Hair by DEENO JEONG