The theme of this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Talk’s was the “Spice of Life”. The guest list at the event was star-studded with the best chefs from around Asia mingling with the most sought-after food writers and bloggers from the region.
Kicking off the talk was Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant’s Group Editor, William Drew, who reminded the guests of the 50 Best Restaurant’s mission to serve as a platform for everyone to explore, learn, and discover the diversity of cuisines that the world has to offer. Celebrating the chefs who bring these cuisines to a new level is also what makes the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list annually.
At the “Spice of Life” Talk, Chef Ian Kittichai of Issaya Siamese Club spoke about the role that spices play in Thai and Asian cuisines. Then a “Spice Off”, was held between Manish Mehrotra (Indian Accent), Ray Adriansyah and Eelke Plasmeijer (Locavore), and David Thompson (Nahm). The chefs challenged themselves and the guests to taste the different spices that they use in their restaurants and the cuisines that they cook.
Chef Bo Songbisava of Bo.lan, asked a brave and unexpected question during the Q&A of the “Spice Off” and asked the committee, chefs, and guests why an unreasonable amount of plastic and styrofoam was used at the event. Chef Bo shone a light on the problems facing our planet and how much of an impact leaders in the food world have on waste and non recyclable materials. She surprised the crowd and shocked a few of the chefs on stage with her moving speech, and earned a big round applause by everyone in attendance. Chef Bo speaks for many chefs today who understand the importance of giving back to the earth that feeds us.
The popular food blogger, Evelyn Chen, from Bibik Gourmand commented about Chef Bo saying,“I have a new-found respect for this chef who dares to take a stand boldly and publicly for her environment.”
Chef Bo then lead one of the three live cooking demonstrations with a tutorial on a fish sauce pickled mangrove crab in coconut cream with pickled mussels relish. Chef Manish Mehrotra of Indian Accent, (2016’s 9th of Asia’s Best Restaurant’s list) made a baked Amritsari seabass with masala butter and mint boondi.
May Chow, who is this year’s Best Female Chef, lead a demo on the dish she is known for, Chinese-American bao burgers. She demonstrated how to make the perfect bao bun and put together a Sichuan chicken bao for the crowd.
However, the standout demonstration from the event goes to the wake-up-call that Chef Bo called the influential food and restaurant industry to pay attention to. Chefs see the impact that our environment has on our food first hand when they receive their produce every morning. It’s a huge awakening for all of us to know that we can directly effect our environment and the food that it produces. Kudos to Chef Bo for bringing the real spice and fire to the event!