Feeding the world’s richest

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CHIT JUAN

CHIT JUAN

At Chef Rob’s newest restaurant, the rich get to pick their vegetables and be part farmer and part consumer. Not just an ordinary “farm to table” restaurant, here he can make them change the way of the world. And he found this because he pursued his passion.

MANY people live and die not being able to pursue their real passion. Some may have been caught up living someone else’s dream like their parents’ or their spouse’s. But we come into this world by ourselves and will leave the same way. How do we account for the gift of years we were given to do something special, something remarkable, something we were put on this world for?

I was recently reacquainted with a nephew of mine, after almost 10 years of not seeing each other. The last time I remember talking to him was at his father’s funeral (my brother passed at a young age of 58 years) when he told me: “Tita, I want to cook,” he intimated to me. And I said “Go! Take up a course!”

He continued, “Dad never wanted me to do that,” he confided. To which I replied : “Dad’s gone. Your brother’s married and has a family. You have nothing to worry about. Go find your passion.” I said to him with that usual independent almost rebel-like attitude.


Last week, he came home to visit for a few days. I was almost in tears as we hugged and he related to me that he is now a Chef the Cuisine (the top one at a restaurant), not a sous chef, but the top guy who plans everything for his place. Apparently, he wasted no time after his father’s death and he went to study. He went to Chicago to finish his Culinary Course at Le Cordon Bleu, and after that the whole family just thought “Oh, Rob? He is a sushi chef!” everyone echoed. The guy is not just a sushi chef anymore. He has my dream job for my next life: A farm to table or “Farm to fork” chef in Four Seasons Hawaii. And not just any outlet of the luxury hotel. They hired him to start a new place called Keolu—where the world’s richest and “spoiledest” people take a vacation. Just a few villas for the world’s top one percent.

But what will he make them do? “Back to comfort food, “he says. He started a vegetable garden beside the restaurant where guests pick their produce and give them to Chef Rob for cooking. He will actually see these successful and rich people pick their own vegetables, think of what they want to eat and have Chef Rob do the rest. Sounds really “down to earth,” pun intended.

Chef Rob as I now call him has his heart and mind in the right place. He found his passion. He studied for it and worked his way up from assistant cook to sous chef to now Chef de Cuisine. And it does not take a lot of energy when you like what you do.

In fact, he gets to eat his favorite Pinoy food like adobo because he now can integrate it into what they call Hawaiian Regional Cuisine of HRC. This cuisine, fathered by Chef Alan Wong makes use of the tropical ingredients of the islands but injects them with French flair and “slow food” philosophy. We will have to go to Four Seasons to taste what Rob has been up to.

But I like what I see and he likes what lies ahead. Here is one guy who has found his calling. At a tender age of 36 years, he surely has a long way to go. I enjoyed talking to him about slow food principles, that is getting good, clean and fair food. It cannot be any cleaner than what grows literally under his nose. The hotel and a landscape artist listened to Chef Rob’s ideas about what ingredients can be grown and planned the live garden and “mini farm” to his specs. It will be good produce grown only under the strictest organic conditions. It will be fair to the buyer or the hotel villa client who will pay a fair price while rewarding the hotel with good accolades on allowing them to be “part farmer, part consumer”.

Maybe if the owner of the world’s top chemical companies stays at Chef Rob’s restaurant, they may just get enlightened. That real food can be so simple, yet so fulfilling, without chemicals, of course.

And for Chef Rob, he just does not know it yet, but he can change the world. If only one or a few of these Forbes 100 executives get to pick his garden and appreciate the joys of eating good clean food, they may just change the course of the culinary world and change the world of consumers, too.

So Chef Rob, keep on cooking. And in where you are right now, just like the Pinay chef at the White House, you will have the world’s richest and most powerful eating literally from the palm of your hands.

Not very many are given this chance to change mindsets. To change people. To change our ways. Take the chance, Chef Rob.

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