He earned just 50 pesos a month, then cooked food for world leaders
- Filipino chef Boy Logro, 62, hails from a remote island in eastern Philippines
- He started working soon after finishing elementary school
- Toiled hard from the age of 13 as a helper at a Chinese restaurant in Manila
- He learnt cooking by heart, rose from the ranks
- He cooked for royals, including Oman’s Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, Queen Elizabeth II and other world leaders
Dubai: Pablo Logro, more popularly known as chef Boy Logro, has been a household name in the Philippines with his cooking shows and famous antics – “Yum Yum Yum!” and “Ping Ping Ping!”.
The culinary master is behind such shows as Idol sa Kusina and Chef Boy Logro: Kusina Master, and has opened various restaurants that have been a hit among diners, including a seafood joint in Dubai’s Waterfront Market.
But before he rose to fame, the 62-year-old chef had to toil hard starting from a young age. Logro came from a fishing family in the island province of Biliran.
The second child of seven siblings, he finished primary school but was never given a chance to complete high school because his family could no longer afford the cost of education.
So with strong will and a determination to help his family, Logro went to Manila at the age of 13 and landed his first job in the capital as a houseboy in a Chinese restaurant in Quiapo, where he earned 50 pesos a month.
The experience was where he first started to learn the ropes on what would be a fruitful career in the kitchen.
“When I was a houseboy in a Chinese restaurant, that was the time I learned the basics of cooking, the basics of what Chinese food is all about,” says Logro in an interview with Gulf News #Pinoy. “But my first culinary experience was really cooking Spanish food, that’s why one of my favourite cuisines is Spanish.”
After years of working in the Chinese restaurant, in 1975 Logro moved to a Astral Villa, a posh Spanish restaurant where he further honed his culinary skills. While he was hired as a dishwasher, Logro was a fast learner and so he steadily rose from the ranks to become one of the restaurant’s chefs.
But his biggest break as a chef came as an accident – when he tried his luck to work abroad in the 80s.
“When I applied in Oman, it was a funny experience. I applied as a ‘sous chef’. I said to myself, ‘maybe I will just be doing sauces, I can do that’,” laughs Logro, recounting his early experiences as an overseas Filipino worker.
He got the job and worked as a sous chef for His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said of Oman.
“When I applied that time, they gave me $4,000. I was in shock, [I did not think I could go so far] as I was just an elementary school graduate. I didn’t even know anything about being a sous chef,” says Logro.
“When I went there, (I though) oh my God, being a sous chef was one big task – it’s the assistant executive chef. I was told I had to prepare the menu for His Majesty.”
Still as determined and motivated as when he first ventured as a teenager in Manila, Logro embraced the biggest challenge of his career.
“I had to grab the opportunity. I am the kind of person who never backs down. I never give up. If you give me a chance, I have to grab it. You have to fly high.”
During a recent visit in Dubai, Logro reveals more on his OFW life in a Q&A with #Pinoy.
His humble beginnings
Sometimes you don’t know what God will give you. As long as God is creating something for you, you have to do it. Don’t try to stop what He wants you to do.
My attitude is if there’s an opportunity, grab that opportunity. Be positive, whatever it is you have to appreciate it, you have to love whatever it is that’s given to you.
Prove to yourself that you can make it. If I can make it, why can’t these young entrepreneurs or chefs or the millennials?
Working in Oman
I learnt a lot from Oman. I studied in Oman and I also travelled in Europe. I worked 11 years in Oman for the royal family.
When I was in Oman, I was also given the chance to cook for big personalities like former US President George Bush, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, King Hussein Bin Talal of Jordan, Princess Diana of Wales and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
I prepared rellenong manok (roast stuffed chicken) for George Bush. I garnished it with ginataang kalabasa (butternut squash). I did the mashed ginataang pumpkin then topped it with the roulade chicken – I called it in English stuffed roulade chicken with quail egg. He was asking several times, ‘how did you prepare this food’ and ‘from which country are you’. I said I’m a Filipino. It was very inspiring and flattering that these famous people really appreciate Filipino food.
On ending his OFW career
Eleven years is more than enough. You are there because of money. You have to bring the money to the Philippines and start with your business. When I went home, I started to build my culinary school – Chef Logro’s Institute of Culinary & Kitchen Services Inc. (Clicks) – and it worked.
We started with four students and slowly we grew to hundreds of students. I did not graduate from high school, I only finished elementary school. So when they ask me how I finished my course, I tell them, I only graduated from UE, University of Experience (laughs).
Best learning in his culinary journey
I really work hard. Until now I keep on studying – I don’t stop learning. You have to learn the new or latest trends in the world. You must be on top of your game.
On being a celebrity chef
Maybe because I’m a poor guy, I take every opportunity as a golden chance for me, so I have to perform much better. I have to do something different from the other chefs. My style came from my experience – it’s not according to the book. What I have to give is based on my experience.
Tips for aspiring chefs
Everybody can cook, everybody can do it, all you need to do is focus. If you want to be a chef, you have to work on it. If you are a chef, you can see the world. You can see different places in the world. You can work in a cruise ship or you can work in restaurants or hotels around the world. You can taste the world.
Message for OFWs
The right attitude, of course, is what we have. At my school, I told the students to have the right attitude all the time in the kitchen. Don’t lose your temper, always be calm and in proper behavior. I believe that all Filipinos want to uplift their lives, that’s why they come here in the UAE.
The most important thing is that you love your job, whatever it is, be it a chef or salesman or saleslady. You have to love your job, because time is very fast and when you do something good, it will come back to you, to your family and to your career. Continue your dream and focus on your dreams.
His favourite celebrity chef
Gordon Ramsay, Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse. I follow some of their style with some Filipino twists and it works.
Top 3 Filipino food
Sinigang, adobo and of course the inihaw.
Favourite Arabic food
Mechoui (whole roasted lamb), chicken or lamb tabbouleh and halwa (dessert).