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Photo: Long Fei/Munster + Long Fei; Grooming: Angel Gwee, using Marc Jacobs Beauty and L'Oréal Professionnel

Ask Javier Perez what dish would best describe him and he won’t be able to pinpoint one. He can, however, give you a colourful description of what it would entail: “It’ll take a significant amount of time to prepare, but yet will be so simple that it’s underestimated,” says the 39-year-old, who co-founded Kilo restaurant in 2011. “Textures will be essential, and a smooth finish with a lingering taste will be the memory I’d like to keep.” We could say the same for the F&B spaces he and his team have conceived, all of which brim with energy, “engage people and offer them something to speak of and explore”.

(Related: A Drink With Hunn Wai)

He has undoubtedly managed to achieve this with the first Kilo, which sits in an old warehouse building along the Kallang River. It feels like a friend’s home, cosy with a laid‑back vibe and an open kitchen. This proved a hit with diners, and in the last six years, Javier and his co-founders Joshua Adjodha, Sharon Lee and YC Teo have rolled out other fun concepts, including Camp Kilo Charcoal Club, Kilo Lounge and Kilo Bali. And when he is not tending to his business, he is likely to be sipping on a glass of New World wine. 

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“I grew up being taught to enjoy everything I’m part of; to turn work into play or treat work as play. With this attitude, I find that time passes by very quickly and I enjoy everything that I do. In turn, I want to instill this mindset in my team, to give them a sense of purpose, pace and passion.” 

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“When I was younger, I’d frequent a restaurant owned by my uncle’s friends. The way they greeted their diners and the vibrancy of their humble space was nothing I’d ever witnessed before. The energy was infectious and I wanted to recreate that. Fun fact: I also had my first drink there; it was a glass of Finlandia Cranberry Vodka.”

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Photo: 123RF

“I’d love to find a plot of land between two buildings and build a steel and glass structure that’d become an architectural icon. In Singapore, I’d love to turn Lee Kuan Yew’s old house into one of the finest restaurants in town that celebrates the past and the future.” 

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Exterior of Kilo Lounge

“I don’t think I’ll ever retire, but when I’m at that age, I hope to own a few hotels. With them, I’d introduce a variety of dining experiences, from intimate to energy-driven, simple to luxurious. And like in the beginning, my aim will still be to transport diners to another world.”

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The Cracked Cardinal (2001) by George Condo, oil on canvas; Photo: Courtesy of Skarstedt Gallery

“I’m a big fan of art and have always wanted to have a dramatic piece hanging from the ceilings of my restaurants. Something larger than life and almost museum‑grade. I would also have pieces by my favourite artists such as George Condo, El Anatsui and Retna.” 

 (Related: A Drink With Benjamin Kheng)

Tags: A Drink With, Kilo Bali, Retna, El Anatsui, Sharon Lee, YC Teo, Tatlerscope, Camp Kilo Charcoal Club, Javier Perez, George Condo, Joshua Adjodha, Finlandia Cranberry Vodka, September 2017, Kilo, Kilo Lounge