Chef Pablo "Boy" Logro is a charmer.
He's the first to admit that he's not a Dingdong Dantes nor a Richard Gutierrez, but he has charisma and a talent for cooking.
This is probably why GMA-7 execs gave Chef Boy his own cooking show, Idol Sa Kusina, which began airing July 3, 7:30 p.m. at GMA News TV.
GMA assistant vice president for alternative productions, Ms. Gigi Santiago-Lara, said fans of the former Q-TV 11 show, Secrets of the Masters, clamored for Chef Boy after he was featured on the program in 2009.
He has been described as "nakakaaliw" and "nakakatuwa" because of his antics and his fun approach to cooking.
Unfortunately, Chef Boy was unable to fit TV hosting into his busy schedule, as he was then running a culinary school, Chef Logro's Institute of Culinary and Kitchen Services (CLICKS), in Cavite.
In April this year, he agreed to be a judge in the reality cooking show, Kitchen Superstar. In June, he began taping for his show, Idol Sa Kusina.
At the press conference held June 29 at the GMA-7 compound, Chef Boy shared his rags-to-riches life story, how he acquired his skills without going to a cooking school.
LOGRO'S HISTORY Chef Boy was born to a poor family in Leyte.
They were so poor, he even worked as one of those little boys in muro ami fishing, deemed illegal by the government.
In 1972, his uncle brought him to Quiapo where he cleaned rooms and hallways of a three-story building for a year. Later, he got a job preparing siopao for a Chinese restaurant.
"Pinaghahalo ako ng siopao—mga five kilos gabi-gabi. Noong araw, walang machine, so by hand talaga ang paggawa ng siopao.
"Ten o'clock ng gabi hinahalo na yun 'tapos pina-aalsa hanggang four o'clock in the morning. Yung five kilos, binubuhat ko yun," Chef Boy recalled.
While kneading dough for siopao, he learned the secrets of Asian cooking by observing the chef and his assistants.
He watched and learned how to cook European dishes while working at the Astral Villa Spanish restaurant in Makati, and later, at the former Bayview Plaza Hotel.
"Mahilig ako mag-e-entertain ng mga [guests] dun. Makapal ang mukha ko, e," he said.
He befriended an Arab guest at the hotel who offered him a job in Oman.
"Sabi niya 'We're looking for a sous chef in Oman... are you willing to apply?'
"Sabi ko, 'Ok, I'm applying for sous chef.' Tapos problemado ako kasi hinanapan ako ng diploma, e, wala man akong diploma.
"Hinanapan din ako ng birth certificate, e, na-tsunami kami nung 1969.
"So, wala ako talagang documents. Lahat naanod... buti na lang noong araw, puuwede pa yung mga dokumentong affidavit," Chef Boy said.
"So nakakuha ako ng passport. Yung high school graduate na pinsan ko, Logro din [ang apelyido], Pablo na lang pinalit ko...
"I tell you the truth, yun ang nangyari. Thank God na-approve na ko."
And the rest, as they say, is history.
PERSONAL CHEF In 1982, Chef Boy went to Oman to work at the Al Bustan Palace, where guests of the king would stay.
"Nalula ako. I have to work in a beautiful palace. A lot of rooms yung Al Bustan palace. World class po yun, sobrang ganda.
"Dun tumitira si George Bush 'pag guest namin. 'Yan yung palace [na] malulula ka talaga. Crystal lahat ng chandelier, nagniningning!" he said.
"E, nung pumasok ako, sabi ko 'Totoo kaya 'to? Parang panaginip.' E, ang liit-liit ko, ang payat-payat ko, hindi pa ko nakakain ng tenderloin nun."
He was shocked when told of his job at the palace.
"Sabi sa 'kin 'Bablo, you work in my kitchen.' Kasi walang P sa salita nila, akala ko [ang tawag sa akin], 'Diablo,'" he said.
"'You have to work in my kitchen. You serve my head of state.' Nagulat ako. So I learned how to serve the head of state. How to plate, how to serve with silver.
"Diyos ko, nanginginig [ako], ang bigat... may French kami na maitre d' [na nagturo sa amin]. Talagang napakagaling. Tinuruan kami how to serve 'Your Majesty.'"
Chef Boy served regular hotel guests as well as royalty like the king and queen of Oman, England's Queen Elizabeth, the king and queen of Jordan, former President George Bush, and the late Princess Diana whom, he claimed, loved his "poached egg with green salad and walnut dressing."
He also learned how to cook Omani food. In ten years of service to the king, he mastered fancy dishes, and created unique recipes such as "lamb adobo," which became one of the king's favorites.
BACK TO MANILA Chef Boy returned to Manila in 1992 and worked at the Manila Diamond hotel as sous chef.
He was later promoted and became the first Filipino to be named executive chef of a five-star hotel in the country.
He said his promotion caused many of his colleagues to question his credentials, as he did not receive any formal culinary training.
Chef Boy said he ignored his detractors and set out to prove why he deserved his position.
From 1992 to 2001, Chef Boy served guests of the Manila Diamond hotel with his "fusion" of delectable meals.
He left the hotel to open his own culinary school. Through classes which he conducts himself, he is able to share his knowledge and experience.
One important lesson he imparts to his students is to treat all kitchen personnel with respect, even if they are just delivery boys.
Another important lesson is to support the local agriculture industry.
He believes that if the latest knowledge and technology are passed on to farmers, the country can produce quality meat, vegetables and fruits.