The making and eating of food has always been a passion and a way of life to me. I love the idea of creating good healthy meals and sharing it with people. I personally prefer the concept of ordering things for the table where everyone eats the same dishes rather than individually ordering a meal for themselves. Coming from an Asian culture, I grew up in an environment and culture where the central social activity was based around eating together. I essentially grew up being around, thinking and talking about food. My family’s social events were all rooted around cooking, eating and drinking. Since I was a child, I always observed the way my parents and other people prepared meals in the kitchen. I realized that I picked up habits by watching how others cooked. It is such a beautiful art form. As an artist in the performing arts, I have always been inventive, creative, daring and curious. I see an uncanny parallel with cooking to dance making. It takes hard work, creativity, passion and a joy in what you are doing to become successful in anything.
I am very familiar and aware that the restaurant business is difficult and entails hard stressful work. My romantic outlook on cooking is balanced equally with a very pragmatic side. My father worked all of his life in restaurants and he had his own restaurant for a number of years in Vancouver. I myself worked in my father’s restaurant along with other eating establishments for years as a cook, busboy, bartender, and waiter to pay my way through school. It is a very competitive milieu and it constantly takes an innovative, fun and fresh approach to be relevant.
I find dining whether in a restaurant, at a friend’s or at home as a complete sensory experience. When it is done right, it will be a memorable event that one talks about for years. If it was done wrong, it could destroy the whole evening and damage a reputation. Dining encompasses many of the theatrical elements involved in putting on a performance; there is the conceptual developmental stage in the kitchen, to the presentation on the floor, along with the company that partakes in the sharing of the food. We all want to experience the ‘wow’ factor when we eat as a form of entertainment. The participation of a fine meal with good wine should be approached as a festivity. One must respect not only the act of cooking itself but also the ingredients used to create a dish such as the meats, the produce, the herbs, and of course the spices. Good quality fresh products are essential to a fantastic meal. Food is essential to sustaining life therefore it should respected, savoured and celebrated to its’ fullest potential. Good eating is equivalent to passionately loving and respecting life and people. The ritual of sharing a meal as a cook or with friends is one of the most important acts of communication and appreciation. Feeding someone is fundamentally an act of love.
My international travels as a dancer has allowed me to taste some of the culinary offerings the world has to offer. One of the most memorable tours was when I travelled to San Sebastien, Spain in between show dates. My palette could not get enough of the fine culinary creations in this small Basque city situated just south of France. With its’ fine affordable but great eating establishments, pinxos (tapas), wine, and beaches, I could only equate my time in San Sebastien as heaven on earth. I can still taste the beautiful ocean in every bite of the mussels that we tossed back with the vast amounts of wine and cider chasing down our throats. We were in a little hole in the wall of a eating establishment that was jammed packed with happy noisy people standing in a sea of shells from the discarded mussels… it was pure hedonistic pleasure.
I love anything that has to do with food! Everything from the conceptual stages of planning and preparation, to the actual cooking, and of course the ritual of sharing a meal are passions of mine. The tasting and eating of food are some of the most sensual and pleasurable acts one can possibly do in their lives. When I cook for others, I feel as if it is like putting on a show, and for the past twenty years as a dancer and choreographer, I certainly do enjoy putting on great performances. It excites me to try out new recipes, to experiment on ideas, and to create possibilities or combinations (some experiments are less successful then others, nevertheless taking chances is part of striving for greatness). The potential for creativity, discovery and imagination are driving me towards the idea of cooking for a living. All types of cuisine inspire me whether it is European, Asian, African, Middle Eastern, or American (Latin and North America). If a meal is made with imaginative intelligence and especially love, then it is all good to me!