After finishing high school in 1975 I went on the road. Hitchhiking my way across Asia from Istanbul through Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (in the days before guide books) and finally arrived in India.
After the lessons of India were began I continued to Sri Lanka then Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Returning to Waterloo after 2 years I enrolled in the chef’s apprenticeship program. I began my apprenticeship and completed chef school training at George Brown College in 1981.
After graduation I was back on the road to Key West Florida taking a position as saucier at the award winning Cuban/French restaurant, ‘Louies Back Yard’, which would become the best restaurant in South Florida.
In 1985 family brought me back to K-W and I helped Simon and Helen Wicke in opening their Swiss restaurant ‘Simons Place’ in uptown Waterloo. But after a year or so I was back out on the road again; this time on a Mediterranean-North African tour.
Returning back to Canada I was lucky to become ‘chef tournant’ at the Relais & Chateaux, Windsor Arms, Three small rooms and Millcroft Inn group in Alton, Ontario, where I studied under Chef Fredy Stamm.
In 1989 I followed a partner of the Windsor arms group to his exciting new project in Cambridge Ontario and joined the opening brigade at “Langdon Hall”, another Relais & Chateaux member property.
At Langdon I joined the talented Geoffrey Bray-Cotton, executive chef Nigel Didcock, Jerome Chenet, Tony Deluca, Todd Clarmo and Jason Parsons and was promoted executive senior sous chef. In my second year there I was fortunate to be sent to England and be tutored at ‘Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons’, Raymond Blanc’s two star Michelin restaurant and later with Michel Bourdin at the Connaught Hotel in London.
Soon after returning to Canada I was itching to get back out on the road. I was to return to Asia to research opening my own restaurant. I had an idea would be a mix of what I had been taught about French classical techniques and the flavours of S E Asia.
My first stop was in the city of Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia where I was enrolled in a Bahasa Indonesia language course. After completion I headed out to the countryside to practice my new language and to study regional cuisines. Having the language skills opened doors to restaurant kitchens and to the homes of people where Grandmothers would sit me on a stool to watch! As I traveled around the Indonesian archipelago I took lots of notes, photos and mailed back a lot of books.
After Indonesia I continued on to Thailand and then on to Vietnam.
I returned to Canada and in the spring of 1994 opened ‘Bhima’s Warung’, developing and practicing on my ‘kind-of-willing’ guests who knowledge was basically fried rice(nasi goreng) and meat on a stick(sate).
In 1998 the travel bug struck again and off I went to Bali. Tons of red tape and a lot of fun later in August 2001 we put the shovel in the sand in the village of Petitingget, Bali and began building the ‘Loloan’. One month later they put the jets into the World Trade Center. One year after 9-11, Bali was also bombed by terrorists. We however continued with our dream and finally we opened the beautiful Loloan restaurant in August 2004.
It had come full circle for me as I was teaching my mostly male Balinese chef team classic Indonesian recipes that they were not taught in the ‘international chef’s school’ due to lack of interest in the food they eat at home and the fact that women do the cooking in the village.
Having finished with the Bali project, I am back in Canada and spend my time working with my excellent and talented staff at Bhimas…while waiting to see when the travel bug will stick again.