Bobby Chinn: Around the world in taste buds

Today, we are going to talk about cooking, flavors, mixtures… In short, we are going to talk about cooking and not just anyone! But what’s Bobby Chinn doing on the Roadsign blog? It is simple: he came to share his greed for discovery, sharing, authenticity, travel. Come on board!

[ Biography of an All-rounder without borders ]

For those who have not yet read the many articles about Bobby all over the world, let’s try a quick presentation of this atypical and endearing Chef.
Born in New Zealand from a Chinese-American father and an Egyptian mother, this kid was born a globe-trotter. Going to school in Auckland, Cairo, London and San Francisco, it shapes your eyes on the world, its smells and flavours. His DNA and curiosity also led him to enrol in the French Cooking Institute of New York, to learn improvisation and to stay for a time at the Holy City Zoo, influential Comedy Club of San Francisco. Looking for his way, he will also make a detour to the New York Stock Exchange before opting definitively for cooking. He says “I accidentally became a Chef but I was born as a traveller”. Bobby has no borders, does not belongs to any group and find a way to fit everywhere. Raised apart from all prejudices, he says he has always lived at the crossroads.

“I prefer to look for our commonality versus our differences as clearly in those days, I was very different to the rest of the kids”.

And if there is one thing that is common to all countries, a way to share daily life and to immerse oneself in a local culture, it is cooking.

[ The plate, the screen, the sharing ]

First waiter, kitchen-help or assistant, Bobby did not plan to become a famous Chef. His ambition is first to make his guests happy with simple things and a touch of madness. It’s not so easy to go out of the beaten path of gastronomy, especially in the West. A wise advice from his father and the desire for a real creative culinary space led him in the 90s to Vietnam and he soon became a star of cuisine throughout Asia and the Middle East. Since then, Bobby has also returned to open a famous restaurant in London, reselling since then and is working on new projects. Passionate, Bobby constantly creates new and personal dishes, inspired by classical French cuisine and his unusual culinary experiences made all over the world.

“I borrow from many, in small ways, I mix it up and often come up with some interesting dishes that appeal to the cultures that I have borrowed from. It is not complicated”

Bobby follows his mantra: KISS for Keep It Simple Stupid. Funny, upbeat and sometimes cheeky, Bobby Chinn almost naturally found himself at the head of a culinary TV show in Asia but also helming a series of reports broadcasted in France under the title of “Traditions et saveurs” who have travelled around the world via Travel channel, Voyage and Discovery Channel. In these culinary epics in Turkey, Zanzibar, Peru or Sicily, Bobby takes us to the local market, cooks with the inhabitants in the street or in their house and engages in a most informal shopping.

“It really depends on the country as each culture is very different, I never have a true game plan for any of it. I go with the flow”.

It is true that looking at him learning how to cook “Pasta con le sarde” on the dock of a Sicilian port, you feel like you have family on the island… His way of sharing, the sincerity he conveys also gives rise to requests of another nature, becoming ambassador of Vietnamese tourism in Europe, appointed as WWF’s Sustainable Seafood Ambassador for the Coral Triangle, obtaining many awards for his TV shows in Asia and entering the jury of Top Chef Middle East. Bobby can say that travel abolishes borders and leads anywhere you want.

[ Cuisine is a voyage ]

When asked his definition of the ideal trip, he answers “Semi planned with a lot of space to improvise”. He adds that he wants to see the local market, fast track to the community, discover the street-food.

“I’m often invited to eat at a swank restaurant but I am more inclined to eating where the people eat. I can eat sushi anywhere but I can’t eat a good Ban Xeo outside streets of Ho Chi Minh or a great taco outside Mexico. I want to taste the food at the source. It’s like cooking out of a cookbook and never really knowing what it’s supposed to taste like”.

His exploration of Vietnamese cuisine has been going on for many years. It’s impossible to overlook what makes it so different from other cuisines in Asia. He reminds us that the spice trade have heavily influenced the region and allowed China to export its tastes all over the world. In Asia, many cultures have been able to get away from Chinese flavours but the most unique still is Vietnamese cuisine.

“As a starter, they are the only ones that cook with caramel. There are dishes that vary slightly to their neighbours but on the whole, Vietnam cooks a modern cuisine perfected thousands of years ago. It’s a regional, sustainable and light cuisine, generally gluten-free, with contrasting flavours, colours, textures with varying temperatures that can be experienced in a single bite. Vietnamese food is still mysterious because it wasn’t fully documented like the country and its neighbours lived a 1000 years fighting for independence”.

That is why we are talking with Bobby Chinn today. His watch on the world, his curiosity and voyage are inscribed in his genes and he chose cuisine for exploring the world better.

More information about Bobby Chinn in his website:

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