Trading in taste

Oct 03, 2012, 10:05 IST | Avantika Patil

Leaving a successful wall street job and becoming a chef, that too, without training. Madness right?

Well, Bobby Chinn did just that to become one of Hanoi’s most sought-after chefs and has wooed Indian audiences with his cooking skills as well. In an engaging conversation with CS, Bobby who’s starring in a new cookery related show, talks about his passion for cooking and more:

Promotional Feature/Editor: Janhavi Samant

Childhood memories
Growing up, I was always surrounded by great food. Between my Chinese grandmother and Egyptian grandmother in Cairo, I got a whiff of food that sparked my senses. I helped them occasionally. I would hang out with my grandmothers and talk to them about food. It wasn’t until I ended up working for a chef called Elka Gilmore did I see and taste food like never before.

Cuisine, not currency 

I was a trader on the New York Stock Exchange. I didn’t get bored of Wall Street. Actually, Wall Street was far from boring; it might have been a little too exciting most of the time! I just didn’t care to be there. I didn’t see a real purpose to the madness. I needed passion and a purpose to my life and I felt it wasn’t there in chasing down the American dream. I took some of the skills I learned on Wall Street and put them it into practice. I enrolled into a culinary school but at the last minute, I decided I wanted to face a couple of personal challenges and fears before that. I wanted to do standup comedy, which I did in LA and in order to support myself, I needed a job with flexible hours. So I worked as a waiter, runner, bus boy, host in restaurants until I eventually landed in a kitchen. The rest as they say, is history!

Take three
I grew up in three different continents. When I was a kid growing up in England, the school food was really bad. That’s when I discovered Indian cuisine. I find great comfort in Indian cuisine — from Punjabi cuisine and vegetarian thali in the North to southern style curries in the south. I love Mexican food growing up in San Francisco. Middle Eastern cuisine is also very comforting, as well as a lot of Turkish. Chinese cuisine, especially my grandmother’s cooking has a very special place in my heart.

Cooking for Clinton
One of my favourite moments cooking was for Bill Clinton. I researched as much as I could on his diet. His favourite meal is a burrito, so I made one of those, but he is a vegan as well, so no cheese. I also learned that he loves Indian, so I made him a vegetarian thali. I went out and ordered food from a local Indian restaurant nearby to compare and I have to say, we were all proud of the food that we made. 

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