From a humble childhood, to a world traveller, my story begins in Liverpool, where I was born in 1966. From Guinness in my milk, to watching Bennie Hill on the TV, fond memories of fry ups, mugs of Tea, Irish stew, roast dinners with fluffy roast potatoes. First food memories include waiting for relatives to visit from Wexford, Ireland bringing with them Soda Bread, white puddings, thick cut Bacon,
Irish Soda Bread @ Guinness
Soul food for the grandparents. I always had a keen eye on the kitchen and the going’s on. Wondering what the next meal would entail or would I enjoy it or not. In primary school lunch was always the topic of the day, what pudding it would be especially! I always had seconds or thirds, anything with custard was heaven. no fads them days about diets, nutrition or junk food, just hot, wholesome, home cooked foods, especially chocolate sponge with mint custard.
I remember joining the boy scouts and learning how to make “a cup of Tea” but the cooking had other less savoury parts to it, “washing dishes” first attempts of cooking was ginger bread men, salads, fairy cakes, Christmas cake and other sweet delights. We always had spices and herbs in the cupboard, maybe that’s where the fascination starts.
I always had desires for spicy food, black pepper and Tabasco being common place on the dining table. On special occasions, me and my dad went to a big Indian restaurant in Southport, bahji, pompadoms and fiery hot curry. one of my all time favourites was lime pickle,
I used to make cheese sandwiches for school with lime pickle, nobody ever dared eat my lunch.!
Then in my teenage years I was introduced to China Town in Liverpool, what fascination, the smells, sights, colours. every type of noodle or dried ingredient imaginable. not the American version I had seen on TV like chow mein. Sui mei’s and dumplings, oyster sauce, herbs and mixes woke my taste buds up, between Chinese and Indian food there was not much place left for traditional English Food.
With holidays to Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Ireland, & the USA the world was my oyster, culinary wise. one fond memory of Florida was the small coffee shops selling Cuban coffee small and dark cups of sweet ,rich coffee, not the usual supermarket coffee.
In the many years that followed and recent Holidays to Miami, my friends introduced me to the delights of Puerto Rican cuisine. such as Arroz con pollo, or “rice with chicken,” delicate flavours without the spice. I always enjoyed trying new recipes and dishes, within reason! markets and food stalls always amazed me, I always believed “eat like a local and you can’t go far wrong”. meeting so many good friends from ATEMI RYU JU JITSU such as Dr Phillip Chenique and Sensai Leoni.
But that all changed in my late 20′s I discovered I had Gout, So a radical rethink of food and drink, much to my annoyance, as the thinks I loved became my worst enemy. I was soon pushed towards cooking again as I took over from my father as a pub restaurant chef. Cooking firm favorites such as steak and kidney pies, chicken curry, chili con carne and roast dinners. Only using local fresh ingredients and meats. my popularity soared and soon we covered nearly 200 meals on a Friday lunchtime. I relocated 3 times to bigger and better locations, eventually taking over my own pub franchise. In 2000 I won Pub chef of The Year. I was made an offer for my business so I decided to move on.!!
Next stop was Goa, India now this was cooking, going to the market early morning, bartering, working with a boy from Nepal, we soon exchanged recipes, I taught him how to make Fish and chips and roast dinners, he taught me the delights of Indian cuisine. by the way he did not speak a word of English so it was more practical than verbal learning. Favourites I remember are chicken xacuti, chicken Cafreal and Goan fish curry. all washed down with kings beer.
but my travels where not over next stop Thailand!! Great Thai food Arriving in Bangkok after being in a fishing village in Goa, was a complete shock! the pace of life, the size of the city and the night life Food stalls everywhere, so what to eat? noodles, seafood, grilled chicken, som tam, you name it , it could be put in a wok or soup and cooked. grilled BBQ chicken and sticky rice became one of my first favourites for street food, red and green curries also.
the waistline soon increased with all the delights. shortly after arriving I met my wife, who introduced me to original home cook food, as a westerner we are used to 3 meals a day, not a slow continuation from breakfast to bedtime. everything revolved around food or cooking- great!!! I was starting to find my feet, and found the good restaurants and stalls, markets that had the best vegetables and ingredients. eating regular in the wife’s house, opened my eyes to real home cooked food. every type of fish, vegetable, curry and all types of Muslim food, especially Massaman, nothing better than home cooked food. I will try to dispel some of the food myths you see on blogs and cookery websites. Fish sauce is not used in everything especially curries, salt is often used in Thai cooking. Most of the Recipes I have been given, have been past down from the wife’s family who worked as Chef’s in the Royal Palace, and many of the recipe’s are used in family restaurants in Bangkok. first things I tried to make was som tam (pappaya salad) then the stir fry dishes and then allowed to make red and green curries. The problem is with so much choice everyday in the markets is what to cook today? so then I was living in Hua Hin 4 days a week and Bangkok 3 days studying, 90% of our meals are Thai with 80% being pasta or vegetarian, with the odd steak and chips thrown in!!
updated to present day soon!!!
2016 coming soon..