Hungry For More: Chef Josh Boutwood Is Prepped And Ready To Serve

Hungry For More: Chef Josh Boutwood Is Prepped And Ready To Serve


Chef Josh Boutwood may have turn down the heat in the kitchen but his passion for cooking is far from burning out. Read an excerpt below.

Related: Chef Josh Boutwood Of Savage On Cooking With His Primal Instinct

Such was the case for one of Metro Manila’s most prolific culinary experts, Josh Boutwood. He is as renowned for his kitchen abilities as he is for his skill to establish a restaurant that constantly evolves and challenges itself to deliver new flavors. As the corporate chef of the Bistro Group, he handles nearly 130 dining concepts and food outlets while running his own restaurants—open-fire grill Savage, a tasting menu room called Helm, and fine-dining concept The Test Kitchen. All of which are constantly fully booked by the city’s top food critics and dining enthusiasts. But the lack of customers during the pandemic has brought along loss that goes beyond his earning potential. 

Yes, he needed sales for his restaurants to survive, but he points out that cooking gave him comfort beyond mere sustenance physically and financially. “I was pulling my hair out because I’m not used to keeping my feet still, I wanted to work,” he says. “My mentality is not driven by staying put, I have to keep moving. And if I don’t keep moving, it’s almost like I’m going down a rabbit hole and it just goes deeper and deeper.” He’s a chef through and through. When he celebrates, he cooks. When he’s not in his best state, he cooks. So that’s exactly what the culinary figure did. The world may have banished him from the outside, but he was able to find refuge in his kitchen. “If I was to do burgers, pasta, rice bowls, or whatever, it was still cooking, and that means I could still enjoy myself.”


Firing up the stove is his comfort zone, and if he ever needed comfort, ironically it was when the restaurant industry was at its boiling point. So, he had to turn the fire down to a simmer, which is an act that goes against his natural culinary instincts. “When something changes, you want to make an immediate implementation. But I had to struggle and stop myself from doing that, which is what we had been practicing pre-pandemic. We had to really think about the consequences of each action because there were repercussions.

Suit, vest and pants by THONIE PORTER, Inner shirt by BARO LABEL and Cardigan by KENZO from CUL DE SAC

For example, creating a dish that would not stay alive from A to B during transportation, it would have backfired on us,” he explains. The multi-awarded chef needed to use his skills not to be clever, but to be resourceful, since they were up against constantly changing rules, regulations and restrictions. “We had to adapt, adjust and evolve in a way that we weren’t taught to do. We had to listen to the news, see what restrictions have changed and adapt within those next few hours in the middle of the night to be ready for the following day. It taught us a lesson that is invaluable today on how we run our businesses.” 

“We had to adapt, adjust and evolve in a way that we weren’t taught to do…It taught us a lesson that is invaluable today on how we run our businesses.” 

Josh Boutwood

The topic of our conversation couldn’t be held at any better location. We were currently sitting on the second floor of The Test Kitchen where time is considered an ingredient. Sitting just behind me was his exposed curing room, where several mouth-watering salami and cured meats hang from the ceiling (some for already six years) that gives the premium taste of the restaurant’s inventive dishes. And similar to his investment in the time-consuming process, Boutwood was more than willing to patiently wait to deliver the best service during the pandemic.

Workwear Jacket by THONIE PORTER and Knit Sweater by KENZO from CUL DE SAC

“We wanted to make sure that whatever we did was executed and thoughtful to the best of our abilities before we act on it,” he shares. They ventured into ready-to-cook meals that come with the tagline of ‘we do the hard work, so you don’t have to’ which caters to those who didn’t have the time to cook. And his own restaurants, that were not designed for takeaway or delivery, was able to generate a ready-to-eat menu which was very simple in terms of what they usually would create. “We had to completely slow down the process in order for us to execute it well, and it paid off,” he says with a sigh of relief, and it indeed paid off. 

Suit and pants by VIN ORIAS and Inner shirt by EDIT.

He became the first ambassador from the Philippines for the French brand, Elle & Vire, and his name also made the “Young Talents of the Year” roster of La Liste, a gastronomic ranking system based in France. While his restaurant, Helm, earned a spot in the prestigious 50 Best Discovery List, which is an expert-approved collection of superior dining and drinking destinations worldwide. All of which the 34-year-old alongside his tenacious staff garnered during the unprecedented time. “To receive those accolades while we’re in that state, it was just so much sweeter. It wasn’t only a welcomed boost to my determination to keep going, but to the team as well. Because at the end of the day, it’s not just me, I have a whole team behind me that works for the common goal of making things the best that we could possibly do every day.”

Discover how the multi-awarded Chef Josh Boutwood came out of the pandemic as better cook and restaurateur in MEGA Man’s April 2022 issue now available in ReadlyMagzterPress Reader and Zinio

Photography KEIRAN PUNAY of STUDIO 100
Creative Direction NICOLE ALMERO
Fashion Direction RYUJI SHIOMITSU
Shoot Coordination KZ FRANCISCO and GAIL ONG

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