If you have ever dipped your toes in F&B, you should be able to relate. It is nearly impossible for chefs to take extended breaks from the demands of the kitchen. They don’t just work around the clock, but on weekends and holidays, which is when the majority of society wines and dines.
No one knows this better than Isadora Chai, founder of three restaurants and a bar: Bistro à Table, Antara Restaurant, Anson Colonial Café and Abacus Lounge.
Most of her logged travels revolve around her work, where she travels abroad to learn from maestros such as Chef Gaggan Anand.
Even so, Isadora makes it a point to travel for the sake of rest, rejuvenation and, not least, creative inspiration.
“Apart from having discipline at work, I feel like I should also have more discipline to go on a holiday because sometimes I have to cancel holidays for work even though they’ve already been paid for,” said Chai. “I try to take six to twelve mini trips about three to five days long throughout the year.”
Here, she lists five food discoveries from her search for deliciousness to whet your appetite for travel:
1. Breaking bread in Phnom Penh
"I think one of the greatest legacies of prior French colonisation of Cambodia: Nompang – a Cambodian hybrid of the French baguette."
2. Chimay Beer made in a Trappist Monastery in Belgium
"Chimay blue Grande Reserve is a copper-brown beer with a light creamy head and slightly bitter taste that exhibits considerable depth and a fruity and peppery character. I’d even dare say everything else tastes like dishwater after a first sip of Chimay!"
3. The best shoyu ramen in Tokyo
"Now with three restaurants and a bar, the only holidays I take are ‘spur of the moment’ ones where I acquire tickets the night before I fly. I once had a craving for ramen noodles and took a next-day flight to Tokyo before boarding a flight back to Kuala Lumpur."
4. Freshly churned goat’s butter from Asador Etxebarri, Spain
"When I hear the phrase 'a slice of heaven', this freshly churned goat’s milk butter comes to mind. It has a rustic earthiness with a gradual acidity that lingers on the palate."
5. The most amazing roast lamb at Salt Bae’s Nusr-Et Steahouse, Istanbul
"I visited the Nusr-Et steakhouse years before the ‘salt bae’ sensation. Back then, we referred to him as ‘the Turkish Fabio.’ There is nothing healthy about this steakhouse, as a heart defibrillator machine is inconspicuously displayed at the restaurant’s dining hall."
For more dining recommendations, check out these picks by foodies Nina Sabrina Ismail Sabri, Aliff Hazwan and two other globetrotters