Food & Beverage

Tony Boy Escalante

Photo Paco Guerrero

Pursuing his passion for food, Tony Boy Escalante has built a network of restaurants loved by Filipinos and recognised by the world

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The award-winning chef Tony Boy Escalante has put Tagaytay on the map as a food destination in Asia. Once a shady dirt road that led to a secret garden, the Antonio’s Group of Restaurants can be found in various locations across the countryside. His name, too, is not lost in the various food bibles and lists of top restaurants and chefs in the world.

The multi-awarded chef has consistently placed in The Miele Guide from 2008 to 2014, making it an easy path to becoming named the Manitowoc Restaurateur of the Year in the 2014 World Gourmet Summit. A year later, the namesake Antonio’s fine dining became the first Filipino restaurant to be included in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, debuting at the 48th spot. Even through the pandemic, it remains in Asia’s 100 Best Restaurants of the San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna-sponsored initiative.

It has been close to two decades since he decided to open the doors to the colonial Spanish house and farm property that became the venue for his farm-to-table passion. In 2003, the weekend draw of road trippers from Manila could dine at Breakfast at Antonio’s, a brunch spot on the mountain ridge. That same year, he opened The Grill by Antonio’s to cater to casual Filipino cuisine. Before the pandemic, he launched Balay Dako: a large stone house overlooking the Taal Volcano and serving classic Filipino favourites.

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Tony Boy Escalante was a flight attendant for 10 years, travelling and dining around the world, before he pursued his passion for food. He took a culinary course in Australia where he realised that, while he was a good cook, he still had much to learn. He worked at The Tivoli restaurant in the now-defunct Mandarin Oriental Manila for three years without pay, going home to Tagaytay in the weekends and building the foundation of what would become his own successful group of restaurants. 

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