RSS Feed

Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

  1. 13 Reasons Australia Kicks Ass

    March 8, 2013 by The E.A.T. Team

    van times australia-53

    For sixteen days in June, we roadtripped in a Wicked van across the east coast of Australia from Sydney to Brisbane. Hannah and I teamed up with her old roommate from university in Leeds, Tom, for two and half weeks full of debauchery, dick jokes, beans on toast, if anything TOO many perfect beaches, fighting over who had to sit in the middle seat, perfect weather half the time and torrential rains and epic storms the other half, crazy Darwinian animal life, showering in public places, and couchsurfing and interviewing some of the most unforgettable, inspiring folks.

    You’ve already read about a lot of the people we met along the way, including a night of wine and parrots with Mamabake, tasting sweet and spicy homemade chilli sauces with John at the Byron Bay Chilli Company, admiring the beauty of collected oddities with Maria at Real Creative Design, chatting entrepreneurship and giving design students a platform in the real world with Frankie Ratford and The Design Kids, dreamy surfer seascapes with Christie Rigby, eating our hare krishna hearts out at Heart & Halo , ogling all the local goodies at the Byron Bay Farmers Market and meeting and being interviewed ourselves by food writer Victoria Cosford.

    So there’s the meat of the matter. But what tied all these incredible stories together was the fact that we had our own set of wheels for the first time on the entire trip. And the van was unforgettable for numerous reasons..

    Let’s start at the beginning.

    We visited Tom who was living in Sydney and tore up the city for a week while planning out our next moves. We knew we wanted to see the coast, and we also knew we wanted to do it as cheaply as possible since none of us were rolling in the dough.

    We decided to go with Wicked Campers because they were young and vulgar like us, and because they gave The Eat Team a sweet discount (thanks John!). Wicked has a special where if you show up to pick up your van naked, they give you an extra day for free. Try as we might, Hannah and I couldn’t convince Tom to join us in clothes-free savings, much to the dismay of the Wicked employee who helped us with our paperwork that day. Marcus told us that not enough people came in naked. We comiserated. Then we hopped in the van and headed straight to the Blue Mountains.

    We don’t know if Wicked chose our specific van because of The Eat Team’s foodie project, but it really couldn’t have suited us any better. One side read “FORK YEH!” with a graffiti mural of a fork and spoon. We soon discovered the fork and spoon were actually depicted copulating, which although may have embarrassed us at times when passing by schoolchildren, primarily added to our enjoyment of it because we love dirty jokes almost as much as we love food. So, a perfect fit.

    Australia is MASSIVE and so a lot of our trip was driving through empty stretches of nature, not passing a single car. And the route we took was only a tiny portion of one coast. It continually blows my mind how massive the country is.

    So that was our trip. It was wild, beautiful, sleep-deprived, smelly, intense, and unforgettable. Should you do it? Most certainly without a doubt motherfuckin’ YES.

    van times australia-7

    van times australia-9

    van times australia-39

    It would be hard (read “boring”) to try and recap every day’s details for you, so I’ll give you a short and sweet list of my favorite memories from Roadtrip Australia:
    1. Seeing Koala and Kangaroo signs along the roads
    2. Stopping at 7-Eleven every day for $1 coffees. Getting angry when we were in the boonies without any 7-Eleven’s about to sustain our addiction.
    3. Spotting crazy Darwinian wildlife all over the place–giant sea birds, small fat sea stars, flying foxes hanging from the trees in obscene numbers, and yes, wild Kangaroos!
    4. Learning about why so many koalas have chlamydia at the Koala Hospital. Oh and seeing insanely cute koalas up close and personal.
    5. Watching our tour guide at said Koala Hospital, who I swear was actually Betty White
    6. Not getting bitten by sandflies and mosquitos since we were there during winter (was fucking cold though, you probably wouldn’t imagine!)
    7. Getting my nickname “Fat Mel” because I was always a mile behind Tom and Hannah on hikes. “It’s like having a fat friend!”
    8. Too many perfect beaches to count. It was literally boring selecting photos for this section because I just took 400 pictures of the same landscapes, trying and failing miserably at getting across the real beauty of Australia. It’s pretty much exactly like California’s coast, only on steroids times 100 and for much longer stretches at a time.
    9. Couchsurfing: with our friends of friends Shorty, Sam and Paleo Pete, the cameraderie of good people and tasty cooking. With Ella in Bellingen, roasting marshmallows with her granddaughter and warming up with soup by the fire; with Hamish, making homemade sushi; wining and dining with Chris and his kitty in Port Macquarie;
    10. Dipping our toes in Never Never Land (no seriously that’s what its called), the most pristine hidden lake I’ve ever seen, chatting about how traveling has evolved with Ella, how couchsurfing shapes our experiences and how hitchhiking shaped hers when she was our age.
    11. Dragging Tom to artsy things and interviews, and just annoying him in general all day every day.
    12. Van cooking. There’s going to be a whole segment with our van recipes in the book. I’m excited. You should be too. Basically we ate a lot of beans and eggs and toast. Be prepared for resourcefulness.
    13. Coming back to civilization after 16 days on the road.. surreal and disorientating to say the least.

    Lessons learned: A group that travels together is like family–you’ve gotta stop thinking “me” and start thinking about the big picture of “us”. What’s good for the whole? I also learned that a hot shower, a warm meal, and a friendly conversation go a long, long way when you’ve gone a couple days without. I do solemnly swear to pay it forward to couchsurfers!

    van times australia-65

    van times australia-113

    van times australia-124

     

    If you like this post and The Eat Team, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for updates.

     


  2. Cubic Goodies: in.cube8er

    November 29, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE CANVAS 
    in.cube8er gallery
    ON THE GLOBE
    Brisbane, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Vicki Sinclair, franchise owner

    From kitsch to couture, in.cube8r ® has it all under one roof. We stumbled upon this mini mecca of handmade goods on a walk in Brisbane, just a couple blocks shy of where we spotted Harajuku Gyoza.

    Enticed by the sign outside “90 Brisbane artists under one roof,” we ducked in, hoping we might spot some more great art. The handmade goods were lovely but it was the business itself that captivated us that afternoon.

    Glass boxes full of creative goodies shone like diamonds in the late afternoon sun. Curious, we wandered inside. Brisbane franchise owner Vicki Sinclair welcomed us in with a warm smile and explained the in.cube8r model to us.

    “Each in.cube8r® is home to more than 90 of australia’s top crafters. in.cube8r takes no commission on sales. Each gallery is divided up into glass cubicles, shelves, racks and partitions which artists can lease for a small cost, from as little as $21.00 per week over a 3-month period. in.cube8r is the first and original model of this concept. It is open to anyone who makes things by hand and for anyone who loves buying one-off unique items. There is no commission on items sold; when an item is sold the artist receives 100% of the retail price. in.cube8r® runs like a long-term market; this gives its artists and hand crafters the power over display and price.”

    Isy Galey, creator of in.cube8er, woke up one morning (after another nanny contract had ended, due to children growing up and going to school) and calculated that she had changed close to 25,000 nappies over the last 20 years, so perhaps it was time to fulfill the dream.

    We love the idea of having an affordable platform for both emerging and established artists to display and sell their work.

    For more information, please visit:
    http://www.incube8r.com.au/

    Quotes by incube8er.com.au

    If you like this post and The Eat Team, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for updates.

     


  3. Harajuku Gyoza

    October 17, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE MENU 
    Duck Gyoza, Pork Gyoza, Edamame, Japanese Beer
    ON THE GLOBE
    Brisbane, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Andy Jeffreys, Manager

    A dumpling smiled at me.

    “Look at that logo Hannah! It’s so f#@$ing cute!” Strolling around Brisbane on a sunny afternoon, we doubled back on ourselves to see what was inside this big, sleek, wooden-paneled building with a giant happy dumpling on the front.

    As it turns out, the rest of Harajuku Gyoza is as charming as its cleverly silly logo. Sleek black tables, rows of shiny red barstools, lamps that say “HAI!”, decorative plates designed by a myriad of renowned designers such as our friends at The Hungry Workshop (interview coming soon!), and of course the omnipresent smiling gyoza–the centerpiece of the restaurant, commanding attention and soliciting smiles.

    Luckily, manager Andy Jeffreys had time to meet with us that same day. He told us about Harajuku Gyoza’s beginnings and how it came to be one of the hippest spots in town in under a year. We were hardly surprised to learn that this place was created by two designers, Steven Minon and Matthew Bailey, who are also the founders of Junior design and advertising agency. The way every detail is considered, and the extremely aesthetic nature of it all was not just a happy accident. In my opinion, that’s what makes good design good–it appears seamlessly easy and natural, but in reality it takes planning, experience, and confidence to create such elegant simplicity.

    Fusing their love of charming and playful Japanese harajuku culture with the clean interior design of Japanese gyoza bars, they let their aesthetic and food speak for themselves, and people happily spread the word.

    We also weren’t surprised to learn that Harajuku Gyoza didn’t pay for any formal advertising, yet on their opening night, they were and are still regularly exceeding their seating capacity, with an intense waiting list. How did they get customers lining up for something they knew very little about?

    Again, it’s all about the design. For 7 months prior to opening, they were constructing the inside–pedestrian traffic could see the big smiling logo on the outside, and the inside remained a mystery. It’s like smelling Thanksgiving dinner roasting in the oven all day, your hunger growing stronger and more unbearable by the minute, yet you must wait. And when that bird comes out of the oven, your plate full of steaming vegetables, buttery stuffing, and glistening turkey.. you’re in heaven. They gave the customers a glimpse of good things to come, and kept them waiting. When they finally opened their doors after the better part of a year, people were incredibly eager to see exactly what was behind those doors.

    The staff is another integral part of the success of this place. Andy himself spent several years in Japan teaching English and was a no-brainer when it came to choosing a manager. The friendly waitresses who served us greeted us with big smiles, and welcomed arriving customers in Japanese.

    Harajuku Gyoza still has yet to pay for advertising, but the success only builds. Again, it’s the design. It’s self-propagating. The whole place is just so damn photogenic, people are always tweeting, instagramming, facebooking, and so on–without any incentives or contests or asking on the owner’s part. They simply combined a stunning design with simple, great dumplings. Fusing their love of charming and playful Japanese harajuku culture with the clean interior design of Japanese gyoza bars, they let their aesthetic and food speak for themselves, and people happily spread the word.

    They focused on doing one thing, and doing it well. In design and in dumplings, they executed both flawlessly in our opinion.

    For more information, please visit:
    Harajuku Gyoza
    394 Brunswick Street
    Fortitude Valley, Queensland 4006
    Australia

    www.harajukugyoza.com
    +61738524624

    Thanks to Andy and the Harajuku Gyoza team!

    If you like this post and The Eat Team, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for updates.

     


  4. By The Sea With Christie Rigby

    October 5, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    A chef AND a painter.. my heart be still!

    ON THE CANVAS 
    Surfing seascapes
    ON THE GLOBE
    Byron Bay, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Christie Rigby, Painter

    She opened her antique suitcase and out spilled layer upon layer of dreamy waterscapes. Women in the sea, overflowing with power and grace reminiscent of Greek goddesses. Christie Rigby’s paintings are mellow and feminine, yet portray immense confidence and strength.

    Christie was the guest of honor at our dinner with Mamabake, and she graciously invited us to stay with her in Byron Bay. We accepted, and we’re so glad we did.

    We caught her at a very busy time–prepping for an extended trip to Europe, working almost full time at Heart & Halo, curating and framing her paintings and prints for buyers and a group exhibit, painting daily, and trying to squeeze in surfing in the mornings.. her life was packed. Yet somehow she still found time to cook us an incredibly tasty quinoa stir fry (did we mention she’s a trained chef?), show us her studio, and send us in the direction of the industrial estate, where we met Real Creative Design and The Design Kids. Christie was an integral link to our epic Byron Bay experience and we are eternally grateful!

    Christie’s paintings are just like her–calm, expressive, honest, energetic, and all about the sea. The daughter of a fisherman and an artist, it all makes perfect sense to us.

    For more information, please visit:
    http://christieleebythesea.blogspot.com/

    If you like this post and The Eat Team, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for updates.

     


  5. Real Creative Design

    August 9, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE CANVAS 
    Custom surf board covers, graphic design
    ON THE GLOBE
    Byron Bay, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Maria Nilsson, Real Creative Design Studio

    What do you get when you mix a world-famous surf scene, beautiful beaches, hippies, hipsters, a lush region for fruit and veg and a whole lot of sunshine? Answer: a booming hub of creatives working and living in the same tiny space. In our eyes, Byron Bay lived up to all the hype we heard about it and then some.

    Surf artist Christie Rigby tipped us off about an industrial estate full of art and design studios just outside the buzzing hum of Byron’s core, and what a treat it was.

    We set off in our campervan in the late morning, the sun breaking through the rain clouds for the first time in days, a double rainbow filling the sky, as if to say.. this day is gonna be fucking awesome.

    This is the first installment of a small series of the people we met that day.

    Maria welcomed us in with a knock-out smile and showed us around their big, bright new studio. Brilliantly curated antiques and op shop goodies collected over the last six years peppered the entire space. Colors splashed all around, old mixed with new; the art and design created in the studio blending seamlessly into their collected treasures.

    We chatted to Maria about the design scene in Australia, her immigration from Sweden, and the gorgeous custom surf board covers that she sews. Read on.

    Everyone gets together and hangs out, we all have a unique style, so we work together. We put on creative nights all the time where we have parties and do art.

    When did you move to Australia?
    I moved from Sweden in 2006.

    Did you study in Sweden?
    Yep, Media. Then I studied design in New Town and moved to Byron Bay in 2009. I spent the holidays in Byron Bay and loved it. As soon as I had the chance I moved here and started Real Creative.

    How did it all start?
    Real Creative started in internet cafes. Diva and I worked as a team, we called ourselves ‘Real’ and grew from there. For a while we were sharing a studio with The Design Kids on one computer. It wasn’t long before we realised we needed one each as things were taking forever to get done. It hurt our brains! We earned some money, bought another computer, moved in to a new unit, and got going!

    How did you find your clients?
    We got our initial clients through friends as we had our previous portfolios of work to show. We visited art shows too and got work from those. We’ve also been asked to do Byron Bay Surf Festival.

    Is there a lot of competition within the design community in Byron Bay?
    No. In Sydney I found it was quite competitive but here not at all! Everyone lives and breathes for each other. Everyone gets together and hangs out, we all have a unique style, so we work together. We put on creative nights all the time where we have parties and do art.

    Do you sell the art that you make?
    We make most money through design. People don’t like to pay too much for art, especially if you’re not a well-known artist. We get clients from the shows and markets that we do. We sell prints and photo blocks. We find that people just want a little memento from Byron, so the smaller pieces do well. It’s something little, like $20, not a big investment piece.

    You have quite a few surf boards here too, do you paint them?
    Yeah, we paint them, send them off to get waxed and there’s a company that sells them.

    For more information visit:

    Real Creative Blog
    https://www.facebook.com/realcreativedesignstudio

    http://real.lagr.se/

    realcreativedesignstudio@gmail.com

    6/12 Tasman way, Byron Bay, New South Wales, 2481, Australia

    If you like this post and The Eat Team, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for updates.

     


  6. Eat Meet: FINDARS Founders in Kuala Lumpur

    May 9, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE CANVAS 
    Comic Books, Illustration, Painting
    ON THE GLOBE
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    ON THE TEAM
    無限發掘 FINDARS

     

    In Kuala Lumpur, our couchsurfing hosts discovered a group of artists who established a gallery and studio, called 無限發掘 FINDARS, to work together, inspire one another, and showcase their creativity.  It’s a space that’s open to the community and to different types of art, as well as an independent music label and studio.

     

    It made me pretty damn nostalgic for days spent in the studios at art school, working late into the night with your best mates by your side.  We loved seeing the sketchbooks of painter Beng Tze, who, along with the other founders of FINDARS honed their crafts many moons ago at Malaysian Institute of Art.

     

    We were lucky to interview one of the founders Lim Keh Soon, who makes some of the freshest (and most twisted!) illustrations I’ve seen.

     

    How old are you?
    32.

     

    What brought you to KL?
    I grew up close to here and moved to the centre 10 years ago to study.

     

    What did you study?
    Illustration at the Malaysian Institute of Art.

     

    So, we are here in ‘Findars’ art space. How did the project start?
    I met Beng Tze and Min Lik, we work together with a few other artists and share the rent for the building. We put on shows when we can. The group started in February 2008. There’s 6 of us – Me, Wong Eng Leong, Wong Min Lik, Tey Beng Tze, Bannai Roo, and Rainf.

     

    Do a lot of people purchase your pieces?
    We had another space near the central market where people would come in and buy but not so many collectors come to this location because its a bit more off-the-beaten track.

     

    Have you been able to make money?
    Not so much. We all have other jobs too. I work a few days a week as a part-time teacher, teaching art to 19-and 20-year old students, the rest of the time I spend here as the studio is good for my concentration. I used to work alone at my house but it wasn’t good for inspiration. Around 3 years ago I made a comic book, inspired by Japanese Manga, and published 130 copies. I sold them by myself, mainly to friends.

     

    Would you say you were more of an illustrator than a painter?
    Yes, but I have always been interested in painting so I have been doing a lot of that recently.

     

    What’s the art scene like in KL?
    The most happening time is the show opening. They are ongoing but the audience is usually quite conservative.

     

    Are there lots of artists in the city?
    Not compared with Indonesia, that’s known as an art hub for South-East Asia.

     

    What is your favourite style of drawing, or thing to draw?
    Characters. Not the normal style of character drawing though. Something abnormal, cut-off or something.

     

    What’s the inspiration for your current piece?
    Moving here I find I have a proper space to work. I love to see the scenery and sometimes try to include local news. My most recent piece was inspired by the Prime Ministers slogan, “You help me, I help you” I named it “You eat me, I eat you”.

     

    Is this piece, your painting called “You Eat Me, I Eat You” for an upcoming show?
    No. I plan to do a solo show and possibly produce another comic book this year.

     

    What materials do you normally use?
    Acrylic paint. I don’t sketch or plan, just go straight in with paint. Most of them I imagine and then paint. For some I use real objects and then paint around it.

     

    How long do your large paintings usually take to complete?
    Around 2 months.

     

    How do you know when a piece is finished?
    Well, this one isn’t. I still need to refine. Sometimes it’s boring though looking at the same piece, so I do some drawing instead.

     

    FINDARS regularly hosts exhibitions and live music at their gallery in Kuala Lumpur.  Fore more information, check them out on the web at the following places.

    If you like this post and The Eat Team, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for updates.

     


  7. What Is Malaysian Food?

    April 7, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    Malaysia is a huge mixing pot of cultures, with such large populations of immigrants that Chinese and Indian food can be considered typical Malaysian food.

    Nasi Kandar is a really popular dish here in Kuala Lumpur and throughout Malaysia: it’s basically rice served buffet-style with different curries, vegetables, noodles, and other sides.  ”Nasi” means rice and “kandar” is the pole that vendors use on their shoulders to balance two buckets of rice.  One heaping plate of warm delicious-ness that leaves you feeling like passing out costs a whopping 6 or 7 Ringgits (USD $2).  Basically its heaven.

    Today, my Polish couchsurfing hosts Magda & Jurek took me to their favorite Nasi Kandar restaurant, and I spoke with the owner, Norshaw Izzarudin and her son Raffik.  Raffik’s brother in law is the chef and it’s a family business through-and-through.

    They’ve been running the business for 7 years, which, like most similar establishments, has no name or address.  However, just because they’re not on Google Maps doesn’t mean business isn’t booming.. its a friendly neighborhood shack and the locals use their hands to eat (according to Magda it tastes better this way).  A nice cold Lime Ice Tea helps wash down the spicy chilis peppered throughout the curries while you sweat in the shade, karaoke from the wedding accross the street filling your ears.

    My favorite dish was Pajeri Nanas (pineapple curry) and Raffik’s is Siakap (fish with coconut milk and chili).

    For dessert, we headed right next door to the women cooking up a storm.  Colorful squishy blobs made of sticky rice, tapioca, and flour confused but delighted my taste buds.

    The photos might do the whole experience more justice:


  8. Eat Meet: Executive Chef Asker Skaarup Bay

    March 31, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE MENU 
    Seven Sea’s seafood soup with herbs & garlic – cumin dusted toast Melba
    Thyme marinated, roasted pork tenderloin on baked root vegetables & prune glace
    Pan-fried Phuket lobster tail on sautéed crushed green pea & lobster bisque
    Slow roasted pineapple & mascarpone mousse, reduced pineapple juice
    Warm chocolate fondant with white liquid center, tamarind juice & honey ice cream
    ON THE GLOBE
    Ko Lanta, Thailand
    ON THE TEAM
    Executive Chef Asker Bay Skaarup, Pimalai 5-Star Resort
     
     

    Close to midnight, Chef Asker walked us down the stairwell from the Seven Seas Restaurant that led to our bright red motorbike.  The sky was ominous, booming with lightning here and there, leaving me feeling a bit like Cinderella leaving the ball at the stroke at 12. Dressed in our evening gowns, we quickly made our descent to avoid the imminent storm after an enchanting evening.

    Try as we might, we did not escape mother nature.  The rain started as we started our engine, a few drops at first, then harder and faster until we could hardly see a thing.  Laughing, we pulled over and took refuge under a bamboo hut.  A lone street dog wandered amongst the flickering streetlights and an indecipherable low pitched horror-film moan filled the air from animals on the ranch across the street.

    More beautiful than scary, it was an unforgettable end to an unforgettable evening.

    Chef Asker wow-ed us to say the least.  Thoughtful, interested, and incredibly talented, he made our experience at Pimalai Resort something special.  He’s worked in the food industry for ages–from his hometown in Denmark, to bustling London, to Dubai, Bangkok, and now Ko Lanta, Asker knows what he’s doing, and he does it well.

    Read on for his thoughts on staying creative, cultural differences, sacrificing for your career, and how he stays James-Bond-fit amongst so much delicious food.

    Introducing Executive Chef Asker Skaarup Bay.

     

    What brought you to work in Thailand?

    I always wanted to work in Asia. I found it is an interesting place compared to European culture – the food, the people, it’s a different way of working.

     

    Did the company ask you to come and work here, or were you looking for work yourself?

    I took a job here two years ago after looking for a job in Asia.

     

    When did you move from being a chef cooking food to managing the kitchens as Executive Chef?

    To;
    About 6 years ago. When we start new menus I brief the concerned staffs, draw up the
    presentation of the dish and some times I arrange the first dish, then we take a photo and
    attach it to the recipe card.During service time I’ll do the rounds in all the kitchens to check that every thing goes
    smoothly.

     

    Is it a lot of paperwork?

    Yes. Sometimes I put more in place than what we need, but it’s a good exercise as you know where different costs go.

     

    What’s your signature dish?

    Seafood soup, one of the most popular dishes here. Also roasted pork tenderloin with roasted veg, and a lobster dish. I’m not a big fan of prawns and lobster but it’s popular. It was a fusion restaurant when I came here but I simplified it.

     

    Are you glad you picked Ko Lanta?

    It’s a nice place – maybe a bit quiet, not much socializing goes on. It’s relaxing but a challenging place to work, it’s harder to find qualified staff and good products than I was used to. Most of our products come from Bangkok although the seafood is local. Almost all of the products on the menu are grown in Thailand.

     

    How big is your team at the moment?

    Sixty people, including students.

     

    And you oversee them all?

    Yes.

     

    It must be a busy day…

    Yes some times. The restaurants are spread all over the resort. We try to do as much as possible home made. The guests appreciate it.

     

    How was it settling in here?

    When you come to a new place it always takes a few weeks to settle down. You need to know how the staff members are working, their strength and weakness etc… and when you accept them they accept you. Once you understand those things you will be able to get a good teamwork and even better when you know their culture.

     

    What’s a regular day in the life of Chef Asker?

    I start around 7 o’clock in the morning and check the breakfast buffets. All the kitchens have
    been closed down and cleaned properly the night before. Then some paperwork needs to be done, I check logbooks, internal cost transfers and staff requests to change or request extra days off. I then attend the morning briefing with the Management, I handle the follow-ups from the morning briefing and check that the breakfast buffets run smoothly. At 11 o’clock I have a briefing with one senior staff member from each kitchen section. Then I a walk through all the kitchens that are in operation for lunch. After that I have time for a break for a couple of hours, then another tour through all the kitchens to make sure they are set for a smooth dinner service.

     

    Do you work everyday?

    I work six days a week. On my days off I visit a beach and have a rest. Once a month I take a
    few days off and go to Bangkok or to some of the neighbour countries to Thailand.

     

    Do you live at the resort?

    Yes, not to far from here. Coming here as a tourist, relaxing for a few days or a week is cool.
    The locals are very laid back, they do not put much effort into meeting the demands from the
    tourists. On your day off you still have to keep in mind you are working at Pimalai because the locals
    and staff know who you are, and even sometimes the guests. Sometimes I miss a socialized
    environment where you can disappear in crowd and no one knows who you are./p>

     

    Why did you leave Dubai?

    Working in Dubai was a good experience in terms of hospitality. Everything is imported and
    you might work with food items that you will not be able to work with in other places because
    of cost. I spent two and half years in Dubai. It was enough.

     

    What is the food scene like on Ko Lanta? And in Thailand in general?

    The food scene here at Koh Lanta is quite basic, all the restaurants serve more or less the
    same kind of food. You wont find many nice restaurants here at Koh Lanta; the backpackers don’t come here for gourmet. In Thailand you get different kind of food depending on where you go; North Thailand serves
    heavier and less spicy food, Bangkok and the center of Thailand serves light and mild spiced
    food, E-san food has a nice special taste which is popular among all the Thais. South Thailand serves lighter and spicier food.

     

    One of the things we have noticed in Thailand is that you can order the same dish from several places but it will always taste totally different, do you know why this is?

    Different Chefs – different taste, I guess food and beverage is a subject of discussion for
    lifetime. The same counts in other countries as well I guess. For example a Caesar salad also tastes
    different from restaurant to restaurant and from café to café

     

    Have you had to get used to any new ingredients in Thailand that you hadn’t used before?

    Everything! That’s one of the reasons it is interesting to travel and work as a Chef, if you don’t
    like it you better stay at home.

     

    So, if you were to go out for a meal where would you go?

    There are not many places to go here at Koh Lanta. I visit a few nice places when in Bangkok:
    Face, a very old fashioned, traditional Thai restaurant where you can choose Thai and Indian
    food or a mix of both if you want. In the basement of Face is a Japanese restaurant too.
    Restaurant Banacahtian serves basic and tasty Thai food. Celadon serves very nice authentic Thai food at The Sukhothai Hotel and also the Thai restaurant at The Peninsula Hotel is worthwhile to visit..

     

    Has your position of Executive Chef taken you away from being creative?

    No not really. I’m involved in all the menu engineering as well as when we start up a new
    menu, from how the ingredients are prepared to how the dish is arranged and served to the guest.
    As much as possible I involve all my staff in making recipes, preparing the ingredients,
    cooking method/technics and arranging the dish. This way they feel that they’ve contributed
    and they feel important.

     

    How often do you create a new menu?

    I change all the menus a few months before the high season so that we have time to practice
    and modify if needed. The Chef Special changes daily at Seven Seas, our signature restaurant.
    Then we have three themes buffets during the week. The Thai buffet in Spice n’ Rice is the
    most popular. Then seafood barbeque in Rak Talay restaurant on the beach as well as the Surf & Turf buffet
    in Rak Talay.

     

    Are most of the customers here from Europe?

    Yes. Most of them are from UK, Australia, Germany, France and Italy, some from New Zealand,
    USA, Russia and India.

     

    What do you eat when you’re not working?

    When I’m at Koh Lanta I go to a street restaurant for some Thai food. If I go out with my friends I enjoy to go out to a restaurant and have a nice dinner and a bottle of wine.

     

    What food is your guilty pleasure?

    I try to eat healthy when I have my main meals. I taste everything while at work during the
    day to control that the food has the same consistency. I taste all the food from raw to finished
    product – even fatty things, but if you eat a little bit only you can take it./p>

     

    How do you stay in shape when you are surrounded by such delicious food?

    I don’t have big main meals. I taste a lot during the day. I eat fruit when I want to have
    something light and I exercise in my break.

     

    What kind of exercise?

    In the gym here. I do weights, running, …anything.

     

    Has that been a habit for a long time?

    Yes. For the last twelve years. Even though I’m tired, I still go to the gym and after a little bit of
    time I get refreshed and get more energy. If I don’t go I regret it.

     

    How was the experience of publishing your dessert book?

    It was a good experience publishing the dessert book. When looking in my book I can see how I have developed during the past. I have always had a big interest in baking and pastry.

     

    What did you learn in the process of creating the book?

    What did I learn? I think that one of the most important things when I prepare a recipe for
    others is that the other person understands how to prepare the dish.

     

    What was your dream job as a child?

    I always liked to bake and cook at home for my family when I was young. I don’t know if I was
    dreaming of what I’m doing now, but I enjoy what I’m doing. I left primary school when I was 15 years old, started in an apprenticeship as baker then continued as Chef apprentice and finally completed a waiter apprenticeship, eight years all together. Then I started traveling with my educations, meeting different food, culture, people and new places, which I found very interesting.

     

    Who are your food heroes, or who has inspired you along the way?

    I don’t really have any food heroes. I observe when I go out, in terms of menu engineering,
    food quality, presentation and price. While working in London I worked at Quo Vadis one of Marco Pierre White’s. first restaurants where I achieved a lot. I get some inspiration from cookbooks and magazines.
    When I look through old cookbooks and magazines I can see how many old ways of preparations and arranging the dishes are coming back.

     

    Have you ever owned a restaurant or would you like to?

    I have been thinking about it! In Denmark there’s a lot of taxes and fees. If I do I will either go back and do something small that I can manage myself, or do something big that I could get other people to manage for me. You need a lot money to start up so at the moment I’m not sure I’d like to do it yet.

     

    What’s your proudest moment in your career to date?

    When things are going smoothly, the guests are happy and give compliments to my staff. It’s
    nice and enjoyable. I feel proud.

     

    What’s the most embarrassing thing that has happened in your career so far?

    A couple of times I have been asked by guests why some dishes not are available on the menu
    when I know the items are in stock.

     

    Have you got any advice for people wanting to enter into a similar career?

    You must understand that you have to work when other people don’t. It’s a hot environment and can be very stressful. You have to like what you’re doing.

     

    Do you still like it?

    YES I still like it. It is not an industry you just join to have a job. You have to sacrifice relation
    ships and family. If you have a job in the hospitality industry your friends and family must understand it and support you. You are not working normal hours Monday to Friday nine to five. Your hours will most likely be Friday to Tuesday eight to twenty one, with a break for a couple of hours during the day.. :-) )

     

    Have you sacrificed part of your family life for your career?

    I don’t know. I’m happy with what I’m doing.

     

    Do you still have family in Denmark?

    Yes. I go back once a year.

     

    Do you miss Danish food?  Do you still cook it here and if so, how do people react to it?

    No I don’t miss Danish food. I’m not a particular person. However Thai food two weeks in a
    row can get a bit boring, I like anything.

     

    What’s your secret for not wanting to be home when you’re away and not wanting to be away when you’re at home?

    I like the Asian culture but when it’s too humid I miss the cold weather, otherwise I like it here
    in Thailand, the island, beaches and city life. I feel Bangkok is my second hometown.

     

    Special thanks to Mirko Langui, Food & Beverage Manager, Chef Asker, and the fabulous Pimalai staff for assistance in making this interview a reality.

    If you’d like to visit Chef Asker and enjoy his sensational food, visit Pimalai 5-Star Resort on Ko Lanta, Thailand.

    If you liked this interview, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for updates.


     


  9. Eat Meet No. 3 – Photorealism in Chiang Mai

    March 16, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE CANVAS 
    Photo-Realistic Charcoal Portraits
    ON THE GLOBE
    Chiang Mai, Thailand
    ON THE TEAM
    Ditcha Pong Donkeaw, Illustrator & Painter

     

    We spent four days in Chiang Mai, a small-ish city in northern Thailand.

    Hannah describes it as “friendly, compact, has everything you’d need, enough to do that you’d discover places regularly, but not so much to do that it’s overwhelming or touristy, impossible to get lost, the community vibe that I didn’t feel in Bangkok.”

    We both agreed to live there at some point.  We loved getting around the city by bike, the relaxed atmosphere, the fast wifi, and the hidden quiet gems with greenery and space to breathe dispersed between the chaotic Thai streets that line each city we’ve been to so far.

    One of the highlights by far was interviewing illustrator Ditcha Pong Donkeaw in a quiet spot underground Chiang Mai’s night bazaar.  He creates illustrations so realistic, you have to look twice (or three times) to make sure that they’re not photographs.

    Though I’m a certified artist (got a piece of paper from the University of California saying as much, so it must be true), I’ve never been able to draw realistically.  Eventually I let go of the notion that artists “should” be able to draw that way and my jealousy that I could not, and focused on my strengths instead..

    Ditcha, or Dui for short, really warmed our hearts.  Initially shy to be on camera and quite modest about his unbelievable skill, he warmed up quickly and opened up to us about how he honed his talent and what his family thinks of his life as an artist.

    Introducing Ditcha:

     

    EatTeam1CollageDuiChiangMai

    What’s your name?

    Ditcha Pong, but my nickname from University is Dui.

     

    How long have you worked at the Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai?

    Six years.

     

    You look really young.  Can we ask how old you are?

    Not so young!  I have small wrinkles.  Twenty-nine.

     

    How long did you study art for?

    I studied at university for four years.  I worked here ever since.

     

    Were you naturally talented with drawing, even before studying?

    Yes, as a child I was very good.  My dad guided my hand when I was young.  He helped me learn.

     

    Did you start drawing in this photo-realistic style, or was your style in the beginning something else?

    I drew everything.. acrylic, watercolor, charcoal.   Sometimes abstract–if the customer likes it that way.

     

    What kind of customers usually buy from you?

    Mainly Europeans but also Americans, Canadians, Brits.

     

    Do all the artists here in the market know eachother?  

    Yes, we are all part of different companies.

     

    So you’re all competing?

    Yes.. that’s why everyone is looking at us, wondering what we are filming!

     

    When you create an artwork for a customer, do they sit for you while you draw?

    No, that would take too long.  I draw from a photograph.

     

    Do you enjoy drawing still after so many years?

    Yes.

     

    In your free time, do you draw other things just for fun?

    Yes, I really enjoy drawing animals, flowers, abstracts.  Jackson Pollock, Picasso.. yeah!

     

    Do you give drawings to your friends sometimes?

    Yes, especially for birthday presents.

     

    Hannah and I are both artists.  I can only do abstract, child-like drawings, totally different from your style.  I get embarrassed looking back through old sketchbooks, at the bad quality.  Do you get embarrassed too looking back to the beginning?

    No, I like it better–there’s so much innocence in it.

     

    Where did you grow up?

    A province called Phaie, its 2 hours from Chiang Mai.  I moved here for university.

     

    How old were you when you started learning how to draw?

    I started studying at 18.

     

    So eleven years now.  And you said your mom and dad wanted you to be an artist?

    Yes, my dad.. but not my mom.  She wanted me to study electronics.

     

    Did your dad push you to be an artist or did he support you in your decision?

    He supported me in my decision.

     

    Do you prefer black and white or color when drawing and painting?

    I like black-and-white better, its more classic and its easier.

     

    What’s the strangest picture anyone’s ever commissioned you to draw?

    Six months ago, a customer had me draw their head in the body of a mermaid.

     

    How long did the drawing we’re looking at take you?

    Two days.  That’s the average amount of time they usually take.

     

    How much did it cost?

    About three-thousand baht. ($100)

     

    Do you like drawing people or animals better?

    People.

     

    The bigger drawings for sale in your gallery were made from photographs too?  They’re real people?

    Yes.

     

    What do you usually draw with?

    Charcoals, chalks, pastels, pencils, lots of different brushes.  No water, its all dry.  Sometimes I wear a mask because the materials can be dangerous.

     

    Where else do you exhibit your work?

    Sometimes I enter contests and show in galleries.

     

    Who are your favorite artists?

    T. Tawan Dutcha Nee (very famous Thai artist), Michelangelo, and Da Vinci.

    Special thanks to Winit Kumrai for translating.

    If you’d like to contact the artist or order a custom illustration, email Ditcha at ditchapongart_9@hotmail.com or call +66892612669.  You can also visit his studio in Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar.

    If you liked this interview, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for updates.

     


  10. Kids For A Day

    March 9, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    After spending four days in the jungle with chef Samart, we were ready to be back in the throes of society.  Roaming the streets of Chiang Mai’s city center all day with our friend Evan tuckered us out, and by the time mid afternoon rolled around, Hannah & Evan were hankering for an ice cold beer by the water.  We stopped in to 7-11 to get the local Chang brew, but there was a sign indicating we were out of luck.  No alcohol was being sold that day because of a Buddhist holiday.

    Instead, we decided to be kids again for the day.  We stocked up on toys–yo yos, frisbee, bubble blowers–and some of the most ridiculous (and surprisingly tasty) processed snacks Thailand has to offer.  Here’s our findings on 7-11′s “finest” foods:

    Cuttlefish Crackers: Crispy, salty, a bit like shrimp chips.  ★★★☆☆

    Coconut Bread: Squishy center, very gelatinous.  Strong, desirable coconut flavor with crispy exterior. ★★★☆☆

    Sushi Sunchips: Light and fluffy, strong earthy texture and seaweed flavor.  Different from American sunchips, but equally delicious. ★★★★☆

    Peanuts glazed with sesame seeds and toffee: Sugary, salty and crunchy.  Fantastic dessert, but not so different than nuts you can acquire at home. ★★★☆☆

    Sweet & sour tamarind: Extreme tartness blends well with sugar and chewiness.  Bean pods still inside were unexpected. ★★☆☆☆

    Toffee almond cake: Mild, moist cake, crispy almonds glazed in honey.  A lot like the German pastry called “bienenstich”.  ★★★☆☆

    Original crispy seaweed: Bland and outright nasty on the first bite, better and better with each thereafter.  7-11s in Thailand have a huge selection of different seaweed. ★★★☆☆

    M150 Energy Drink: Impressive that it comes in a glass bottle.  I heard that energy drinks originated in Thailand, so we wanted to see how they compared to the ones at home.  Sweet but not sickly flavor, enjoyable actually.  Amusing text on packaging reads “DEVOTION, COURAGE, SACRIFICE”. ★★★★☆

    Watermelon Seeds: Absolutely disgusting.  Like old burnt nails.  We just imagined someone at the factory munching on a watermelon spitting seeds out and collecting them, baking them for a few minutes, and packaging them up for sale. ☆☆☆☆☆

    Crab Black Pepper Deluxe Potato Chips: Tasted mostly of BBQ.  A classic, enjoyable chip. ★★★★☆