May 18, 2014

Moments of Culinary Contemplation

Without getting too sappy, there are moments in the life of a food enthusiast that are quite emotional, they are worth pondering over and writing about.  One such moment took place a few weeks ago in London, where I found myself sharing a lunch table with two of the world's most recognized and respected culinary figures.

In fact, the vast majority of the world's top Chefs were present at Nuno Mendez's Chiltern Tavern in Marylebone that day.  The luncheon was a celebration of the World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards for 2014.  Fortunately, my day job affords me the opportunity to participate in such eponymous events.  The feeling was that of sheer awe.

Right to Left: Tanongsak Yordwai & David Thompson of Nahm, Mason Florence, the Academy Chair of Southeast Asia, me, Fergus Henderson & Trevor Gulliver of St. John
I was honored and delighted to be having a meal with David Thompson, Asia's No. 1 Chef 2014 (Restaurant Nahm, Bangkok) and the winner of the World's Lifetime Achievement Award, Chef Fergus Henderson (St. John, London).  Two legendary men in their own right.  Nothing could be wrong with the world.

Thompson, an Australian, almost single-handedly reworked how we cook and eat Thai food. In his quest for perfecting his Thai palate and cooking skills, he uncovered and studied recipes put together by Thai families at funerals.  Books for the dead that contained the deceased's favorite recipes.  By doing so, Thompson brought back hundreds of years of tradition and experimentation to a cuisine that's already steeped in history.  A truly fabled Chef d'Oeuvre.  (Pun very much intended).

As for Henderson, he pioneered the nose-to-tail concept of cooking with offal, a trend that continues to gain popularity worldwide.  With no formal training, he never worked under any other Chef before opening St. John, a shining beacon to British cuisine.

The inimitable Trevor Gulliver, Fergus Henderson's business partner at Restaurant St. John

Here's another photo to mark this fabulous occasion, as well as the video of the awards themselves.  You may notice I had a broken arm on stage (yes, again!),  Don't believe a word Mark the presenter said about how I got injured.  Send me an message if you want to know the REAL story!

With Switzerland's Top Chef and 50 Best winner, Andreas Caminada of Schloss Schauenstein