Alex and Virginia Boyd opened Kumquat restaurant on The Pantiles in April 2022. Since then their offering of delicious food – pitched as ‘Asian fusion’ – has proved to be a huge success, attracting not only local discerning diners but foodies from afar too. For the upcoming Chinese New Year the couple will be hosting two specially-themed weekends on February 9 and 10, and February 16 and 17. Here Alex, who heads up the kitchen, tells Eileen Leahy what’s on the menu…
Alex Boyd’s trademark Asian fusion cuisine has ensured Kumquat, the restaurant on The Pantiles that he co-runs with his wife Virginia, is always buzzing with discerning diners. They simply can’t get enough of the delicious dishes the talented chef consistently creates to give the good people of Tunbridge Wells – and further afield – an exceptional epicurean experience every time they visit.
Alex trained at the prestigious Westminster Catering College – whose alumni includes Jamie Oliver, Ainsley Harriott and Antony Worrall Thompson – during the nineties and then went on to work at some of London’s top restaurants including L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Scott’s of Mayfair and La Tante Claire.
In 2003 he went to work in Hong Kong which is where he met his wife Virginia and it’s there he honed his Asian cooking skills. “They love food in Hong Kong and it’s not just Chinese cooking. There’s all sorts of Thai, Korean and Vietnamese cuisine to enjoy, too,” he explains.
On returning to the UK he worked in London again but gradually scaled back from hectic kitchen life when he and Virginia had their two children. He admits that he and Virginia had always toyed with the idea of running their own restaurant, but it wasn’t until April 2022 that the dream became a reality.
“We always thought Tunbridge Wells would be the perfect place to open a restaurant as we knew people would appreciate what we wanted to do,” reveals Alex, explaining that this was to fuse Virginia’s Hong Kong foodie heritage with his classic training in order to develop a really exciting and different menu – which has proved to be a big hit after nearly two years of trading.
Since then Kumquat – which won last year’s Times Business Award for Start Up of the Year – has hosted a variety of specialist supper clubs and themed evenings alongside its regular menu, which is available every day.
“At Kumquat, we are dedicated to offering not just a meal, but an experience that captures the essence of the celebration. Each dish has been carefully created to blend my modern Asian style of food with the traditional dishes that are eaten at the tables of families in Hong Kong.”
Following the success of Kumquat’s special Chinese New Year menu last year, Alex and Virginia were keen to do one again for 2024.
Their Chinese New Year evenings will take place over two weekends in February – 9 and 10 and 16 and 17. And having had a sneak peek at the menu they certainly promise to be something very special indeed.
Priced at £68 per person for six courses, diners can feast on Asian delicacies such as Jade blessed poached whole poussin chicken, good health steamed Skrei cod, soy and sesame marinated jellyfish salad and lucky money grilled king prawns.
“The evenings promise an array of festivities, including fun and lucky games, as well as captivating performances to enhance your dining experience. Immerse yourself in the joyful ambience as you savour each dish and revel in the celebration of the Lunar New Year,” says Alex before adding that diners can elevate their experience by opting for the wine pairing they’re offering at £35 per person. “Each wine will be expertly selected to complement each exquisite dish.”
His wife Virginia, who runs front of house at Kumquat adds: “We are delighted to present this special Chinese New Year Celebration Dinner, featuring a menu that combines tradition with a modern twist in order to welcome in the Year of the Dragon. Our dedicated team at Kumquat is excited to extend warm hospitality and a personalised touch to every guest joining us for the Chinese New Year Celebration Dinner. We believe that exceptional service is an integral part of creating cherished memories, and we look forward to making these festive evenings truly unforgettable for everyone.”