(November magazine cover of AsiaLIFE)
I often fluctuate in terms of writing something on this blog, but definitely I do not forget about it. I maybe lazy writing here recently but I'm quite busy writing about my life above the rainbow sky. Today, it is fairly different as I sit on a sturdy chair with a bit of sun shining upon me against this frosted glass window in my office. I am simply happy to say that I am back in advertising as a Creative Director in a Digital Ad agency :)
(Chefs from different restaurants in Saigon from 4 countries)
The last quarter of 2013 has its good and not so good ways to end it, and it has been a roller coaster ride since I came back from Italy. But I must say, that was one helluva ride! It's a once in a lifetime chance that not everyone on this planet can have - I am one of those lucky ones. To start with the not so good ones -- after an era of running a quaint cafe in Saigon, things must come to an end. I fully believe that I put my heart and soul with that business and I have used all my talents and personal resources just to make it rise, but it has been very challenging to put patches on the given holes. I did try to put all my concepts in terms of menu, events, design, public relations and how I managed the people -- but it was tiring at some point. My frustrations rose to the maximum level and it took its toll on me that made me realize I don't want to have a business like this at this point of my life. When this cafe decided to be sold, it was a sigh of relief and a call for me to move on to another phase. It was a remarkable experience to give a good legacy to a meek cafe and put it in the landscape of Saigon's bar and cafe scene through the nicely design advertisments and conceptual music and food events that I did. It became a buzz to mostly expats which is the cafe's target. I'm glad that most of friends gave me a tap on the back with all my efforts. I am also forever grateful to those who supported me in many ways.
(Poulet marinated in Ginger & Cumin with fettucine with the marinade
as a sauce plus the Raspberry & Strawberry campote dip for the fowl)
True to the saying that "when God closes a door it opens a window" and even before the cafe I was running ended, I got a work offer from a digital advertising company and the food styling that I set up has started to flourish. It also began to get good projects before the year ended. The nicest way to give an exclamation mark for 2013 was, the moment AsiaLIFE magazine invited me to join their annual cook-off video episode and be part of the magazine cover story. It was a milestone for The Artist Chef :)
(Verdict from Richard Mr. Sterling - An American food and travel writer)
It was the most amazing culinary experience I've ever had! This gave me a validation of how master chef contestants would feel. Real time cooking, on the spot recipe concoction with the given ingredients that would define Saigon for 2014 - all in front of the rolling camera. My recipe represents a mini thanksgiving meal. Saigon is a melting pot, from that idea I put up a few different cuisines I have learned from foreigners. I put it on one plate that can be eaten and be shared the Vietnamese style. This invitation is not about the competititon beacuse there isn't any prize! It is about the experience I had with the top caliber chefs in Saigon (including a chef who worked for a Michelin star restaurant in Chicago) with real toques on their heads. Hats down towh all them specially the most humble and fun to be with French chef Mr. Thierry!
(Chef Thierry - Executive Chef of Boat House Saigon in Thao Dien Village)
In life we are given moments that sometimes we don't understand but we have to embrace it the moment it's there. It will make sense later on, believe me. Whether it's about your career, life or love - follow your heart... I usually do and it makes sense. I have no regrets of the things that happened in my life...whether that specific moment or person who came my way for a long time, quite a while or short-lived, I have embraced them with full stamina or I simply gave my all. I followed every beat of my heart bravely that's why I got buckets of stories to tell everyone that could be familiar or unfamiliar.
People would ask me, what do you do for a living? What is your profession? What is your passion? What is your dream? To simplify my answer that I myself often struggle to answer -- Well... I am an advertising chic who got a decade of creative advertising expertise and a culinarian slash food stylist whenever and wherever. I also have a huge passion for traveling because I want to embrace different cuisine, art, culture and people who will nourish my being. I still dream a lot of big things in my advertising, art and culinary journey and I will definitely share it once I achieved them again...
Hurray to the surprises of 2014! This is my galloping year -- I believe so :)
Until the next dabble of words about exciting stories whether off to renaissance life again or back to some down under adventures or to to jump from the sky in a place called middle earth, lets see...
You can watch the video of the cooking episode with the link underneath:
AsiaLIFE Annual Cook-Off Challenge