To become a chef-ambassador of a reputable food brand, one is expected to have a solid background in the culinary arts, a well-established name in the field, and a knack for creating ingenious dishes.
Those qualities are all present in chef Josh Boutwood, the first-ever brand ambassador of Great Food Solutions (GFS), the food-service arm of San Miguel Pure Foods Company.
“We like the combination of his innovativeness and the dedication in what he does,” said Helene Pontejos, vice president and general manager for San Miguel Foods, Inc. “He’s young and well-respected in the industry. He has focus and quite an influencer in his field.”
Private dining room
Boutwood, who is also corporate chef of The Bistro Group, is multi-awarded, having won several culinary competitions here and abroad. His much-talked-about private dining room, The Test Kitchen, where he unleashes all his creative culinary energy, has further enhanced his place in the limelight.
“It’s a great privilege to be an ambassador for GFS,” said the 30-year-old Boutwood. “San Miguel is a big company to work for. It’s great to share some expertise and experience with them.”
GFS is a food-service corporation with a full line of food products and services. It helps its clients, mainly restaurants and catering businesses, conceptualize menus, create innovative recipes and develop products.
Born in England to a British mother and a Filipino father, Boutwood grew up surrounded by food in Boracay island, where his family had a restaurant business. At age 10, he moved to Spain to pursue a culinary education at Escuela Culinario Mojacar. He apprenticed for renowned chef Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxford, England.
After working in various kitchen jobs, he landed a stint with René Redzepi, owner of the 2-Michelin star Danish restaurant Noma.
When he moved back to the Philippines, he opened in Boracay his first restaurant, Alchemy. It made the list in Miele Guide Asia’s Top 500 restaurants.
Boutwood’s partnership with GFS as brand ambassador was announced at a sumptuous degustation at The Test Kitchen. He admitted that he’s always been a big fan of GFS products, including the Monterey chicken and Purefoods bacon.
“I grew up on Purefoods bacon,” he said. “I eat bacon and rice for breakfast.”
No wonder, Boutwood’s first course, Surf and Earth, incorporated Purefoods thick-cut bacon into the squid dish, which had cauliflower and a garnishing of edible flowers.
Slivered and hot-smoked, the squid was finished off with a blow torch to give it a bit of charring. Boutwood then roasted the honey-cured bacon, macerated it and blended it into the dish.
Next came the Ocean, where he brought out the goodness of poached parrot fish fillet made extra rich and tasty with Ibero’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil and tapioca pearls.
“I wanted to highlight olive oil and its versatility in bringing out the real flavor of the ingredients,” Boutwood said. He likewise created a nice foam out of the olive oil, which somehow heightened the taste.
Moist and succulent
The chicken (Magnolia) dish, called Coop, was sous vide and dressed with carrots and popcorn. Boutwood said the sous vide cooking method helps reduce the margin of error for critical ingredients like chicken. Overcooked chicken becomes too dry to eat.
“Temperature-controlled cooking keeps it within the window where your meat is moist and succulent,” he said.
The tender pork, Farm, used Monterey pork loin and Purefoods Chorizo Bilbao. Boutwood brined the meat and pan-fried it with butter, and served the dish with green peas and pureed chorizo bilbao on the side.
“Take note, we didn’t add any flavor to the pork,” said Boutwood. “It was purely pork, and the only thing that we did was to brine it with salt and sugar. The real flavor came from the emulsified chorizo with garlic and a touch of cream.”
For the beef, Pasture, Monterey rib eye was poached, basted with butter and grilled. It had a very earthy flavor, blended with a dark mustard sauce.
Capping the meal was Magnolia Avocado Ice Cream covered with pop rocks candies, polvoron bits and meringue for added texture.
A bonus dessert, Black Rice Ice Cream atop Smoked Salted Caramel—one of Boutwood’s signature creations—was creamy and smoky in taste, with a solid rice texture in every bite.
“It’s actually our rice course,” he said. “We don’t have rice on our menu, but when we started The Test Kitchen, we got comments for not having rice on the menu. So I said we needed to put rice, but not on the second or third course. It has to be the dessert, and that’s how I developed the black rice. Now, we end the meal with rice. They can’t complain.”
Boutwood is excited to work and share his expertise with GFS.
“I work 18 hours a day, and I look forward to do all the programs that we’ve got down the pipeline. It’s a real partnership,” he said.