Friday, February 26, 2016

Joanie witness Jamie's Italian backdoor!

  (My two girls at the Antipasti Section which is my favourite section)

How do I begin? This is my long overdue post that I have been meaning to finish so I can share to people and inspire them through my journey.

In December 2014, I arrived in Sydney for another leap of faith. Throwing myself into the wind always fascinates me and gives me indescribable excitement -- Not knowing what would the result be, I just brought with me my big desire to finally live in my dream place to settle, Australia! Along with the big hope for it to materialise... and it DID!t

  (Rita Sadik - Jamie's Italian Marketing Manager at that time)

One of the attempts exploring what shall I do in this country whether to pursue advertising or cooking? Through my creativity I submitted a deck presentation of my idea of why I want to have some immersion or witness the back door at Jamie's Italian. The Marketing Manager of KeyStone Group was very impressed and gave me the chance in Canberra where it is less busy and more time for the staff to show me things at the restaurant. She was also amazed how a big fan of Jamie Oliver I am so she also invited me to appear on a video promo of Jamie's Italian for Australian kids!

  (Video shoot at Randwick for Jamie's Italian promo)

  Here is the link of the video:  

(Chef Jim and General Manager Liam of Jamie's Italian Canberra)

When I started my experience at Jamie's Italian, I immerse with the Store Manager Liam and Executive Chef Jim on my first day. The succeeding days, I also met a lot of Korean staff (as the head chef is Korean) and some cool Aussie Chefs that taught me valuable knowledge in a big international restaurant operation. To get me by, They lent me chef uniform, apron, daily food and new found friend Chef Stephen who is very enthusiastic about Filipino people. 

I heard the word "BEHIND" heaps of times and that is how they alert people in a busy kitchen that someone is behind them so they will be cautious or will give way. This experience allowed me to explore various activities from fish section, inside a freezing walk-in fridge with all the supplies, then carrying big vegetable crates, pasta making and the  antipasti section. The way they work in the kitchen plus the training and quality control on food and supplies are pretty impressive, hats off! 

  (The Pasta Section Chef and new found friend Chef Stephen)

The people in Jamie's Italian Canberra are very passionate and true to the philosophies of Jamie Oliver, one good example is the admiration of Chef Stephen to Jamie as the most humble celebrity chef on the planet and a very hands-on restaurateur to his staff. Stephen and I shared a lot of blurbs and I enjoyed giving a hand in pasta making during this experience.

  (Posing and pretending to cook the Famous Osso Bucco)

Jamie's restaurant has taught me a lot of unforgettable preparation and recipes on his signatured dishes that are now part of my repertoire of my favourite dishes to make and to eat at his restaurant. This whole immersion gave me a good glimpse of what he restaurant backdoor is.

  (Chef Pavo is the substitute head chef)

Jamie's Italian gave me more reason to one day apply for MASTER CHEF dream. As I continue doing advertising as my profession and I believe it's in my blood and I do believe I have my professional skill and talent on this field as an Art Director that I need to flourish more here in the Aussie land and with inspiring creative people who will believe in my talent.

  (My Bagno Selfie with my Chef Uniform)

big hug,
joanie  xxx

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Joanie meets Jamie after 5 Years!

Five years ago I met Jamie in London as one of the most peculiar experience in my life. The article about my experience whom I wrote for his website and my blogsite is still a tangible testimony of a very beautiful encounter with my idol. Who would have imagined and not many will be given the chance to meet there idol twice in an up close encounter.
At the  2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show - my partner brought me there to see his cooking demo. We were lucky enough to get some good seats for us to comfortably see Jamie as he did his demo. And we were also fortunate enough to have a taste of the food that he cooked for everyone who are sitting there as his audience. The rest of the crowd who were standing weren't lucky enough but happy to see him anyway.

 I love Woolworths as a brand and I enjoy doing my grocery in their Double Bay branch where I live a few steps away. I really like this activation that they did that really resonated to me as their target market and as s big fan of Jamie Oliver.

Though it was a good experience, I still feel disconnected to Jamie on that said event. As a fan I yearn to get up close, and since Woolies did not provide that privilege -- I opted to go grab Jamie and took my one helluva chance of having a selfie with him. If I will do a TV commercial about this experience, the storyboard above will be my story.

Hence, what I did may not be good in the point-of-view of his bodyguards but Mr. Oliver was very kind enough to stop and did two selfies with me. My recommendation is for Woolies to make some exclusive photo op next time with backdrop and all -- plus the branding of course! Jamie is a big person and he doesn't come to Australia so often so Woolies as a big brand I reckon they can afford to make something like that. Or at least their now Ad agency Saatchi will make good ideas than Leo Burnett.

Oh well... this is it for now, can't wait to write my story about Tim Cahill and the event I attended at GLUE store, an Australian brand that Timmy has his own personal line.

big hug
joanie xxx

Friday, June 05, 2015

Australia my home sweet home!

Good morning matey!

Finally I am saying these words HOME sweet HOME in a place that I always want to be -- Australia! I moved here since December of 2014 and since then a lot of things happened. Some kinda roller coaster ride if I say so. To begin with, I had my Internship at Jamie's Italian in Canberra, witnessed the Sydney Easter show with Woolworths cooking demo and met Jamie Oliver for the second time!

There are good news but also had bad news - My Mum passed away last April. What a sad birthday month it was and I couldn't find words to write anything here in my blog about my good news. In spite of that I know Mum is in a happy place and she will be more proud of me now.

So now back to all the back log I need to do and one of them is to write this post to say I am happy to make tons of meat pies this winter and probably looking forward cooking more Pavlova, Lamingtons Meat Pies and other Aussie delights. On top of that, Greek cuisine will be a new learning as I want to be a good loving partner to my Greek man as I never get tired cooking for him everyday of our life together :)

This is it for now and I am looking forward to write another Jamie Oliver story and more adventures here down under!

big hug,
joanie  xox

Monday, July 28, 2014

With Locals (Vietnam)

I have recently tried something interesting that led me to write and share  here in my blog. I know all of you guys are aware of the idea about home-cooked meals and sharing it to people as a paid meal is becoming a popular thing these days. Though it is not a new idea, it created a bandwagon globally! I myself have done this thing seven years ago when I opened my tiny 24 square meter avant-garde apartment in Manila and welcomed a hundred of couples and cooked them some lovely honest to goodness meals!  It is indeed called “The Artist Chef” intimate dinner for two.

Given this digital age, the idea has evolved into the next level – there are two websites that I know who are doing this thing in Southeast Asia. One is plateculture website. This site invited me to be part of their community of cooks and I currently offer a unique global cuisine dining experience on their website.  But one day, I wanted to experience this idea through a deeper Vietnamese style of cooking and I wanted other people to cook for me. I didn’t try plateculture as I have heard more buzz about this website called “WITHLOCALS” and I have been seeing blogs and links about this dining experience through local food.

I decided to bring my Italian friend and her boyfriend to try this local food in a different kind of experience since they just moved to Vietnam. I carefully looked at the roster of passionate cooks they have on their website who offer different things. Some you can find a street-food style and some are very unique in terms of experience but they are not situated in Saigon. Then I finally stumbled on this cook named “Tuan Tu.” His cooking seems to be my style of eating  & dining and that’s one of the reasons why I chose him. He is a bit pricey but I still went for him because I think his style is something that will up the ante of Vietnamese cuisine. I was looking for something that you cannot find in a restaurant but still has the charm of an honest to goodness home-cooked meals! I want something different and a serendipity dining experience.

The dinner meal cost is 30 USD per person and it’s a whopping 90 USD in total that I had to pay. The website asked for my deposit and the rest will be paid in cash to Tuan. I will recommend and guarantee that it is 100% safe to do transactions on this website. So I prepared my balance, which is 1.6 million VND before I headed to this hidden apartment in an alley right in the heart of the city center. I came in first so Tuan offered me if I like wine, without a doubt I said yes for an Australian Shiraz versus the Chile wine he had on his other hand. My two friends arrived and we appreciated the atmosphere of Tuan’s high ceiling apartment. I was expecting he would put us on rooftop with all the set up but he said rainy season is unpredictable and the rooftop is being renovated.
Moving forward to the meal Tuan served, we were welcomed by the traditional Fried Vietnamese Spring Rolls. We had 3 pieces each and it tasted good and yummy but honestly the dish has no difference with the one I tasted at Ngon, Hoa Tuc and the rest of other low and high-end restaurants in the city. Tuan also poured some wine to the glasses of my friends and served each of us with a small bowl of clam soup. It was very aromatic and comes with 3-5 pieces shells, some coriander and tomato. But still I didn’t find the kick that I was looking for.

Finally the main dish came out, the crab with tamarind sauce.  It was good and true to the taste of the dish! It is exactly how it supposed to be with a bit of the white wine flavor. But it lacked bread so we looked for it and wondered why we didn’t have. We asked Tuan and he said wait for a few minutes. I think they still have to buy outside. Lastly we were served with the last plate, which is the chicken rice.  The chicken lacks taste and the plain rice did not go well with the chicken so I just tasted a few bite and didn’t finish the dish.  

To wrap the meal, 3 glasses with cube mixed fruits were served and accompanied by a pot of Japanese Tea. It was a pleasant meal and we even had these photos that we took after the dinner. But wait until you get the bill. I was expecting to pay my 1.6 million vnd balance and what surprised me was the bottle of wine that cost 580k vnd and that’s 27 USD! I didn’t realize drinks weren’t included so you guys should read carefully the details of your bookings. It would be nice if I he told me about the price of wine that was served so at least I wouldn’t get surprised because it’s not a pleasant surprise. But it was nice to have a free pot of Japanese tea.

Over all the cost is a bit pricey for the quality of meals that were served and with the size of serving. It is a whopping total of 120 USD for 3 people or 40 USD each! It’s ok to pay that big amount but with something that is really unique and will surprise you. Taste wise it was good; it’s just so happened that it didn’t meet my expectations.

End of the story, it’s worth trying the website “WITHLOCALS” to validate the experience. It’s not a bad try with Tuan as well; he is nice and spent a lot of time talking with us. Maybe I will try something cheaper another time. Who knows it might surprise me again next time. There are a lot of passionate cooks and activities on that website and I encourage travelers or expats to try the unique experience the website is offering. It’s not just about the food; they also have some fun activities that you can check out. I would attest that their idea of giving travelers a website portal that enable them to experience an authentic local moment whether on food or local activities is such a brilliant thing on the planet!

Hope you share this story to more travelers as a heads up :)

Visit the website to explore more on your own...

big hug,
joanie  xxx

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lucky Me to join PRO at the AsiaLIFE Cook-Off

(November magazine cover of AsiaLIFE)

Hello Blogger!

I often fluctuate in terms of writing something on this blog, but definitely I do not forget about it. I maybe lazy writing here recently but I'm quite busy writing about my life above the rainbow sky. Today, it is fairly different as I sit on a sturdy chair with a bit of sun shining upon me against this frosted  glass window in my office. I am simply happy to say that I am back in advertising as a Creative Director in a Digital Ad agency :)

(Chefs from different restaurants in Saigon from  4 countries)

The last quarter of 2013 has its good and not so good ways to end it,  and it has been a roller coaster ride since I came back from Italy. But I must say, that was one helluva ride! It's a once in a lifetime chance that not everyone on this planet can have - I am one of those lucky ones.  To start with the not so good ones -- after an era of helping a friend run her quaint cafe in Saigon, things must come to an end. I fully believe that I put my heart and soul for her business and I have used all my talents and personal resources just to make it rise, but it has been very challenging to put patches on the given holes. I did try to put all my concepts in terms of menu, events, design, public relations and how I managed the people -- but it was tiring at some point. My frustrations rose to the maximum level and it took its toll on me that made me realise I don't want to have a business like this at this point of my life. When this cafe decided to be sold, it was a sigh of relief and a call for me to move on to another phase. It was a remarkable experience to give a good legacy to a meek cafe and put it in the landscape of Saigon's bar and cafe scene through the nicely design advertisements and conceptual music and food events that I did. It became a buzz to mostly expats which is the cafe's target. I'm glad that most of friends  gave me a tap on the back with all my efforts. I am also forever grateful to those who supported me in many ways. 

(Poulet marinated in Ginger & Cumin with fettucine with the marinade 
as a sauce plus the Raspberry & Strawberry campote dip for the fowl)

True to the saying that "when God closes a door it opens a window" and even before the cafe I was running ended, I got a work offer from a digital advertising company and the food styling that I set up has started to flourish. It also began to get good projects before the year ended. The nicest way to give an exclamation mark for 2013 was,  the moment AsiaLIFE magazine invited me to join their annual cook-off video episode and be part of the magazine cover story. It was a milestone for The Artist Chef :)

(Verdict from Richard Mr. Sterling - An American food and travel writer)

It was the most amazing culinary experience I've ever had! I am not a professional chef, and I am no close to becoming in terms of technical skills but because of my passion for food and running the cafe of my friend - she allowed me to represent her cafe. My friend even made me a chef uniform to wear. There is something about uniforms that feels so dignified and I am so fascinated with that idea of wearing it.  This contest gave me a validation of how master chef contestants would feel like. Real time cooking, on the spot recipe concoction with the given ingredients that would define Saigon for 2014 - all in front of the rolling camera. This really thrilled me to aspire to be a real contestant of Master Chef Australia! (that show is my favourite of all the versions I have seen - UK, USA and others) My recipe represents a mini thanksgiving meal. Saigon is a melting pot, from that idea I put up a few different cuisines I have learned from foreigners. I put it on one plate that can be eaten and be shared the Vietnamese style. This invitation is not about the competition because there isn't any prize! It is about the experience I had with the top caliber chefs in Saigon (including a chef who worked for a Michelin star restaurant in Chicago) with real toques on their heads versus me a meek and ordinary home cook and a passionate culinarian. Hats down to all them specially the most humble and fun to be with French chef Mr. Thierry!

(Chef Thierry - Executive Chef of Boat House Saigon in Thao Dien Village)

In life we are given moments that sometimes we don't understand but we have to embrace it the moment it's there. It will make sense later on, believe me. Whether it's about your career, life or love - follow your heart... I usually do and it makes sense. I have no regrets of the things that happened in my life...whether that specific moment or person who came my way for a long time, quite a while or short-lived, I have embraced them with full stamina or I simply gave my all. I followed every beat of my heart bravely that's why I got buckets of stories to tell everyone that could be familiar or unfamiliar.

People would ask me, what do you do for a living? What is your profession? What is your passion? What is your dream? To simplify my answer that I myself often struggle to answer -- Well... I am an advertising Creative Director who has more than a decade of creative advertising expertise, a painter and a culinarian. I also have a huge passion for traveling because I want to embrace different cuisine, art, culture and people who will nourish my being. I still dream a lot of big things in my advertising, art and culinary journey and I will definitely share it once I achieved them again...

Hurray to the surprises of 2014!  This is my galloping year -- I believe so :)

Until the next dabble of words about exciting stories whether off to renaissance life again or back to some down under adventures or to to jump from the sky in a place called middle earth, lets see...

You can watch the video of the cooking episode with the link underneath:
AsiaLIFE Annual Cook-Off Challenge

big hug,
joanie  xox

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Simone Massoni's 2012 Typeface Calendar

There are four different seasons in a year--Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Each season arrives in our lives and bring us something. It comes, and it goes. Same with the people whom you consider friends. Some are seasonal and some will stay all year round. No matter what season, I am happy that I am blessed with friends who are coming in every season of my life. And last fall, in Firenze--I have gained friends who became valuable people in my life. I am grateful to have met Simone who gave me this calendar that I fancied about and reminded me of my great love for typography.

He came up with a desk calendar with twelve classic typefaces that went well with the twelve sexy and posh chicks that he illustrated. I know January is about to end but it's just the start of the year and it's not yet too late for you guys to own this calendar that Simone designed. It's also available online so it would be great if you will purchase this cutie item thru this website.

Place your order now!

I am also thankful to Cosimo Lorenzo Pancini for inviting me to his YELLOW party at KM zero design agency from where I met good people and some became my friends including Simone and his fiancee Ilaria. They are nice couple who are both artist. His fiancee Ilaria is an illustrator and also a good cook. I look forward to the day that we can cook together.

Below I enumerate twelve of my favorite typeface at the moment. It would be fun it you also have your own favorite typeface and you can play around on the design and post it in your blog.

Being an artist myself makes me feel happy being around with the people of the same species. Dealing, interacting and having friendship with the people of the same interests as yours would always remind you of the things that you are passionate about and things that you are good at. Seeing Simone's artwork leaves an inspiration to me-- that I shouldn't forget to do my doodles and continue to explore the world of art and design. I have learned that world of design has no limits so I have to continue to discover a lot of things and sharpen my creativity. And of course my cooking would always be there as well :-)

This is it for now my mates and amici!

big hug,
joanie xxx

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2012 Begins at Italia: A diverted path!

(Taken during winter snow at Aosta Valle, Italia)

Christmas came by so quickly and I did nothing but eat and sleep the past days! The winter weather makes it hard for me to dabble some words and express here in my blog the unique way I spent the yuletide season. Procrastination days aren't over yet but I have to do this post now on the first of January, otherwise I am afraid that I might abandoned this blog for the whole year if I won't do it on the first day of the year. Hehe!

My culinary studies just finished last December then I have to move to Milano for a freelance work. It has been a very very beautiful student life I had in Firenze. To study cooking in Italy is the most wise decision I have made in my life so far. It costed me a million in Philippine peso for everything from school, food, lodging & airfare but the experience I gained is ten times worth than a million pesos! I could've bought an SUV car but riding it wouldn't make me tell priceless stories like what I have gained now. And this blog will be my venue to articulate all those life changing experiences I had.

(Traditional Italian Christmas cake I did in my Firenze Cooking School)

Experience is something money can't buy and something that no one can steal away from you. I can claim that I am a millionaire when it comes to that as compared to my money in my bank account. Experience go hand-in-hand with people. I gained not just experiences but valuable people whom I can forever keep in every corner of my heart. Each of them occupies a space. And to name a few I just have to mention my culinary teacher--Marcella then others like Daniela, Cosimo, Rita, Jurgens and Massimilliano!

(Traditional Italian Christmas Eve Dinner with Massi's Family)

Speaking of Massimilliano, I will now segue my Christmas story with him here in Italy. Being away from my family and to celebrate Christmas the second time without them still brings me some certain sadness. But since I am so used to being by myself, it's not as heavy to me unlike other emotional people. But no matter how you avoid the thought---Christmas is about spending time with your family. I don't have it here in Italy until Massi invited me to spend it in Firenze than being alone in Milano. Voila on the eve of Christmas I went to the city center and witnessed the Milan Christmas rush as I buy gifts for Massi's family. Then at eight in the evening I arrived at Stazione Santa Maria Novella in Firenze once more and Massi picked me up! And I arrived at their house just in time for the Christmas eve dinner. First plate, second plate, third... and dolce were served! Traditional Italian or specifically Calabrian food were done by his Aunt. Then at the midnight part of the evening we gave the gifts to each other and opened it! I like their gifts to me and they liked my gifts as well! Next day was about poker, eating, sleeping, cooking, and walking around Firenze are the things I did with him and his family. Now I could say that I have my Italian family in them whom I can count on, I thank Massi for adopting me :)

(Massi and his mom Cecilia during the gift giving)

(Taken during fall at Boboli Garden in Firenze, Italia)

So now it's 2012 and I am still here in Italy. Supposedly I should be in London for the whole month of December for the holiday and will fly back to Vietnam on the 2nd of January. But fate plays its trick on me and give me something unexpected. Pleasant surprise and it still surprises me as days go by. Last year my goal is about Italy and I successfully did it! This year I don't have a fixed goal, I feel like I am just a free soul going with the flow of life. And it excites me where it will bring me to. I don't know where but I'd be happy to be there. I don't want to make a wish, I just let God make his wishes for me and I know it's better that way. Leave it up to him... Oh but well Oh Lord, I just realised---I still want to buy my dream house! Uhmmm... not a fixed goal, could be next year or when it's possible :p

Parking my fingers now and should end this blog post now...

Buon Anno a tutti!!!

big hug,
joanie xxx

Monday, December 12, 2011

Natale in Italia by Surprise!

Ciao Amici! Come Va? Me, molto bene...

How time flies and before I knew it, it's Christmas already. My blog have slept for two months and I couldn't believe it. I have never been missing in action this long! I miss blogging. Come to think of it, there are so many stories to write and so many food photos to post. I have been away and busy for millions of reasons and it's 99.9% positive. I should've been in London at this point and getting ready for the English holiday but sometimes fate has something else in store for each and everyone of us. I am deeply surprised that I am still here in Italy and would spend my first Christmas with snow.

I have been enjoying my culinary studies and Florentine life for the past 3 months that made me think that I'd love to spend my Christmas here. It came to the point that I will do everything just to extend my stay. So many options involved and one of those is studying their language. Well in my heart I'd really love to study it. I would like to see myself to be well-verse in having an Italian conversation. I went on different mazes but it didn't work out. So I just concluded that maybe fate has really planned my life to be in London for Christmas according to my itinerary. Then again it's amazing how fate played it's game on me. What a pleasant surprise that I will have a freelance work in Milano. Up to when? I don't know yet. The good thing is--there is a reason now for me to stay longer in Italy. Opportunity just paved its way!

I just wanted to say hi to my blog today. I am quite very sick and staying at home dealing with my cough and slight fever. It's the weather that I am not accustomed to. Winter is approaching and I really hope that my body can adapt to it. I promise to post more as I back track what happened since October and November. The biggest highlight was--my second solo painting exhibition in Florence. I will surely post the photos here.

The picture above of Ribes & Wine cake is now my favorite cake to do. My recent fixation after discovering the small red berry fruit called Ribes.

Ciao , ciao alla prossima! :-)

big hug,
joanie xxx

Friday, September 30, 2011

Genovese Pesto - Saigon & Florence

My old way of doing pesto in Saigon, Vietnam

Buonasera ragazzi e ragazze!

How time flies that every time I will find time to blog, weeks passed by already and September is ending tomorrow. I have been learning a lot from my cooking school with my dearest teacher Chef Marcella and figo Chef Damiano. One of the remarkable learning I had so far is doing the authentic Genovese pesto. This Italian pasta dish hails from Liguria region and from the province of Genova. I learned that you never cook a pesto which I usually do in my own style and sometimes put bacon on top or chicken. I remember how my Italian boss said it's bastardizing pesto when you add meat. Pesto is pesto in its simplest form and he was right because he is from Genova. So from that learning and new techniques I learned from my Italian teachers, pesto is now one of my favorite staple pasta dishes.

My new way of doing pesto in Florence, Italy

If you notice the picture of my pasta on top which I did when I was still in Saigon, it's quite a bit oily and dark. This one with the linguine pasta is refreshingly green and not oily. How lovely this pasta especially putting my new favorite Pecorino Romano from sheep milk. And the word Pecorino derives from the word Pecora which means sheep. What also excites me doing this pesto sauce is because I have now few Basil pots at my veranda where I usually sits for breakfast and doing skype with my friends.

My pesto ingredients are ready to be blended

My veranda with my Basil pots

I have been out of town lately and I really promise to post separately the pictures of the town I visited. I visited the not so touristy places like Bologna, Lucca, Siena and Fiesole---they are nearby town in Florence. Quaint, beautiful and quiet. But of course I never fail to gaze nor explore the beautiful city of Firenze and one of my favorite spot is the Piazzale Michaelangelo. You will have there the overlooking of Florence with all its landmarks including the river and the cinematic Ponte Vecchio.

Overlooking view of Firenze with Ponte Vecchio

So far I have been around with so many places in Florence like restaurants and pubs with my classmate and new friend Maija. She is from Finland and a very nice girl. I would love to share you guys more of my adventures next time. I have been learning a lot of Italian now and improving just by hearing from my new found Italian friends. And I have some good news next time and I hope I will have some more. Meanwhile, I am excited because I am going out of the country and going back to Spain this time Madrid. I was wishing I can also go back to Barcelona because I really love it but 4 days off school may not be enough. This is it for now...

Ciao Bello and Bella! :-)

big hug,
joanie xxx