Hole in the Wall is not your regular mall food court. You won’t find any plastic tables, stools, cold floor tiles, or even the typical fast food fare. Instead, you’re greeted by a warm, modern, and perfectly curated space decked out with wood panel picnic tables and deer antler lighting fixtures. You’re bombarded with our choice of gourmet sandwiches, umami fried chicken, or catfish nasi lemak for dinner and freshly baked craft cookies for dessert. No, Hole in the Wall is not your regular mall food court. And we bet you never imagined a food court to look like this.
The Tasteless Food Group is a band of merry restaurateurs whose relationship with food is intimate, to say the least. Famous for pioneering new restaurants concepts, they’ve spent their time challenging conventions and pushing the boundaries of our taste buds. As the people responsible for food concepts so modern and so tasty, it seems like an irony that they’ve dubbed themselves “Tasteless.” Or is it?
Behind the Name
“I think it’s because we want to be different all the time, in everything that we do,” said Charles Paw, the founder and guiding light of the Tasteless Food Group when asked about their name. As a business mogul, Charles is the man behind Digit, the company behind ubiquitous tech retailers Digital Walker and Beyond the Box. “That’s what excites me – doing something different,” he said. Charles is a firm believer in the power of innovation and ingenuity and uses that same line of thinking and applies it to a baser passion: food.
Inspired by his travels and diverse gustatory encounters, Charles began the Tasteless Food Group with an open mind and an empty stomach. He gathered talented individuals who shared his flare for culinary experimentation and provided them with both the resources and creative license to come up with restaurant concepts that would change the way Filipinos chewed their food.
The dream team he came up with includes Noel Mauricio, a classically trained chef in French Cuisine who has hustled with the top guns at Michelin-starred establishments in France and New York, and Miko Aspiras and Kristine Lotilla, award-winning pastry chefs recognized for their unconventional and innovative confections. Together, they form the Tasteless Food Group, exploring the boundaries of food and reshaping the landscape of the Philippine food scene, one concept at a time.
But being given free rein to make any concept imaginable is not as easy as it sounds. How do you balance ingenuity with flavor? How do you make something that’s new but still appeals to the general public? And in the infinite realm of culinary possibilities, where do you start?
Creativity in a Dish
It starts with Charles. He’ll be inspired by a dish he tasted during one of his trips or he’ll give a general directive. And from there, his team will brainstorm until they come up with an idea that appeals to all of them and at the same time adds value to the market. “Every concept that we do is something slightly different,” Charles said. “So there’s no taste. There’s no system.”
But just because their concept is new and different doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s always something bizarre and cutting edge. When Charles requested for a dessert concept from chef Miko and chef Kristine, they didn’t opt for anything fancy or complicated. They went back to basics with Scout’s Honor because home is a warm cookie. If you were given free rein in the kitchen, naturally what you would come up with are the flavors that you love and resonate with the most.
By letting their guts take the lead, the Tasteless Food Group allows their senses to shape their concepts. By following their passions, they’re blazing the trail for other restaurateurs and inadvertently transforming the landscape of the Philippine food scene.
To be tasteless, then, is to be brave–to shed the conventions of cooking and baking that we’ve grown accustomed to as well as the temptation to give in to trends. To be tasteless is to be open to the infinite possibilities of dining while still maintaining the integrity of flavor. Because eating is not just to sate hunger. Dining is an experience – a feast for all your senses; a moment to savor.
So when it comes to defining Tasteless, “It cannot be defined,” said chef Miko. “Tasteless [means] we don’t cater to a certain taste.” So keep your eyes peeled, your mind open, and your stomach ready for whatever concoction the Tasteless Food Group’s got up their sleeve next.
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