It takes hours to prepare a dish you consume in minutes…

Life of a chef: I miss the jungle, that gypsy blood in me – inherited, I’m convinced… My love for TCM food is to prepare bites that give others pleasure, even for a few minutes.

It is truly odd coming back to Los Angeles after spending time in pre-Olympic Europe and Singapore. Tossed around by rain in London, hail in Switzerland, and the brutal humidity of South East Asia – I’m still wandering in a cloud of jet-lagged daze. Impossible to adjust to my craving for spicy curry… Good quality of life, healthy food, living without texting, cultural discoveries. A well-adjusted sense for business lacks in the US. Although I love living in California (yes, the weather), I tend to compare and wish to surround myself with only the best from other lands.

I rebound with familiar faces from the rwp (red, white & pure) days in Singapore. Not much seems to have changed. As life moves forward, we merely become wiser about the past and cautious about the future. A sense of belonging when dealing with EYS (Eu Yan Sang) mixed with a peculiar hesitation. I love the general intelligence, the kindness of Asia cultures. I do clash a little with my “pushy” American attitude, trying to add quick efficiency. Seemingly, my free-spirited and enthusiastic ways of adapting to the possibilities do not align with a corporate structure of a slow directive approach. Here at home, we are more expedited in developing ideas into reality but lack a sincere and logical business structure.

The need on both ends to come together and bridge a complex TCM conundrum is still the same. I have developed into a gifted, versed chef with the unique ability to incorporate simple herbal formulas into tasty food. EYS has the ingredients, the testing facilities, and production factories lined up and need my talent to produce intelligent food concepts that can attract a worldwide multi-generational clientele. How do we come respectfully together? The opportunity to learn Traditional Medicine is my lure…

My dilemma is still the same: It’s hard to promote oneself as a good chef; Until you have sat on my table, tasted my food, shared my compassion… my job’s best resume is a short-lived three-dimensional experience. What seems a quick “toss-together” of seemingly lucky gestures and choices is actually a professional methodic selection of actions to blend wisdom – years of study and struggle – into a dish. IT IS METHODIC AND WELL THOUGHT OUT when I form flavor, balanced taste, and target sensations. The critique is brutally quick. One bite, judged by a few seconds of lesser joy, and my entire reputation is murky!

An irate chef would burst into a defensive mode of reactions, insulted by the simplicity of the judging entity that seemingly excluded years of study, ignoring the artistic layers incorporated in a dish judged… Judged by a lesser compassionate palate, unaware of the circumstances that now counter against the master: The soils composition, the mediocre bare ingredients, the lack of tools and time… The personal facts, the judge’s physical momentary circumstances…? This instant measures one few seconds of tasting a nibble and a whole life.

I have long learned not to give in to such negative notions. One must look at the entire experience: Secured by my research, supported by my wisdom, and motivated by my drive to please the most common of palates, I embrace a challenge and provide solutions. The simplicity of merely cooking a meal to please and earn an income bores me. Today’s life dictates that we find healthy solutions and combine the best minds to create intelligent food without synthetic toxins. My motivation is not the business aspect, although I respect that money is vital to sustaining trade and production.

Back to the drawing tables – in my case, the test kitchen… I gotta get this right! My sense is to work, show my kind intentions, and trust that others will protect my rights.

At this point, I find myself newly motivated by the possibilities presented. It feels incredible to be a part of a development that sincerely caters to bring intelligent foods to the masses. Changing a world where most “nutritional” food is a farce. I welcome the opportunity to design TCM food for EYS again. This requires my artist side to bow to the slow-moving process of regulations and bureaucracy…

Is there a decent curry house in Los Angeles?

TCM chef Raphael