“Travel is one of the keys to unlocking the door to creativity and is one of the main things that continue to inspire me every day…” - Chef Mooking
I’m always inspired by what I see in the world beyond my current reach. Learning is a never-ending pursuit and my perpetually inquisitive mind needs to be fed to be able to pass along the feeding ritual. For me, travel is one of the keys to unlocking the door to creativity and is one of the main things that continue to inspire me every day.
On a recent trip to Old Delhi in India, I experienced my first Aloo Paratha (a shallow fried Paratha Roti stuffed with Potato), it was an unfamiliar twist on the Paratha that I believed I knew so well. Prepared in an alley off the main strip in Old Delhi famous for generations of Roti proprietors, this Paratha was both crisp and tender simultaneously.
In Thailand’s Chatuchak Market you will find the best Pad Thai, Egg Crepes, Quail Eggs and Ice Cream all under the thin veil of cover that makes up this permanent yet makeshift open air market.
Paris has an array of foodie experiences lurking around the next never-ending picturesque streets. The best foods I found were at the ever-present Boulangeries where the Traditional Baguette, Cheeses, Yogurt and confections are displayed with as much care as they are prepared.
In Texas while filming my show Man Fire Food, I've experienced the regional majesty of some of the best smoked meats the world has to offer through the fiercely clandestine ways of Barbecue pit master secrets.
The food world is perfect for any endlessly curious person as it is impossible to learn all there is to about food and cooking in one lifetime. What one learns in France as a universal cooking law can swiftly be replaced with another technique, to the contrary, in China; in the hands of a Chinese Master Chef. The common denominator is always the freshest available ingredients at their peak. All of these various skills come together at home in a variety of ways but they always start with great ingredients.
Only by breaking away from our comfort zones are we able to learn to adapt and imagine a new way of being, a fresh perspective on an old task, or an old perspective on a new task; which we may have never been exposed to. Pursuit of knowledge, techniques, and new skills feed me so that I may continue feeding those around me.
I had an awesome time with Sunset Produce at the 90th annual Canadian Produce Marketing Association convention in Montreal April 15-17. I had the chance to meet fans who reached out to me at the show and I also had a nice visit from Mary Blackmon of The Produce News. I showed her to to make the tasty Tomato Trio Sandwich using those delicious gems from none other than Sunset Produce.
My grandfather left China in the early 1900’s to find a better life in the Caribbean, he was actually looking for El Dorado and got stranded in the Trinidad but that’s another story. Like many immigrants to a new land with limited knowledge of the local language, he worked hard, saved harder and lived a level of frugality that most of us wouldn’t begin to consider. After a while he opened his own grocery store, followed by a bakery, then followed by a restaurant. My father and all of his siblings have been in the food and beverage industry in a variety of forms for most of their lives as well, continuing the path trail blazed by their father.
Now I am the third consecutive generation of Mooking’s continuing the family tradition; it is something I take very seriously. Working for a living and building a career is an incredible challenge that many of us undertake to feed our families with varying degrees of passion. Working under the shadow of family tradition and bearing the legacy of one’s lineage takes the necessity of earning a living and makes it a compulsion. After teaming up with SUNSET®, I quickly learned that this is something that Paul Mastronardi and I have in common (amongst our mutual love of great music and delicious food). The family-owned company has passed down the love of food and flavor amongst four generations.
There is a sense of responsibility, accountability and pride that cannot be expressed with any kind of simplicity. I like to think that the responsibility of carrying the family torch grows deeper and more meaningful with each achievement and anniversary of previous landmarks.
This month we celebrate, with the SUNSET® family, the 20th birthday of the Campari® brand cocktail tomato - the world’s first branded tomato. Celebrating 20 years of flavor is more than marking a date on the calendar; it is an ongoing celebration of a family commitment, a marker in a long line of family achievements, a cornerstone of the future of a great legacy and a reminder of the pride and responsibility that this double decade landmark holds.
I am proud to be a part of this moment with the Mastronardi/SUNSET® family. Congratulations, I am looking forward to the next big celebration!