a bloody tongue

Yesterday, after a very long day at the office I finally found myself strolling home, passing the newly build Buddhist temple where South Bridge road splits by Chinatown. These days, a large tent is erected in the free lot next to the construction, hosting curious crowds of foremost local visitors watching stage performances resembling a kabuki dance. I stood there and looked on, not understanding any of the dramatical gestures and screaming on stage but equally irritated by a loud microphone interrupting the performance from the other end under the large tent. Was it a part of it…? I walked closer. Seemingly unattached by viewers to the Chinese dance, to their back-side was a little podium with a decorated armchair. On it sat a Chinese guy in his forties, dressed in purple and bright green robes, shaking his head seemingly meditating. Monks in traditional gold robes elevated on little tables fanned incent smoke into his face, obviously agitating him. A tourist with a bright Canadian shirt stood aside filming it. I thought it was a prayer of some sort and was just about to walk off when the irritated guy started convulsing his body and finally ended in a forward leaning position with his tongue hanging out of his mouth. A monk held a golden bowl below his chin and I stood there gazing while the guy in purple and green sliced his own tongue in shreds with a sharp razor blade. The Canada guy turned off his camera and held his hand affront his mouth, clearly shocked. Blood ran into the bowl. I felt a little shudder and confused searched for any reactions amidst the other viewers, but they all seemed calm. Clearly the “bleeder” must have felt the same lack of reaction as he reached for the blade once more and again slid several times across the hanging tongue.
I walked off. A bit fainted.
The next day I received explanations that could not erase or clear my wondering mind about the gruesome scenery still freshly present in my mind. Apparently the same guy had “bathed” himself with scolding oil to chase away the bad spirits holding on to him. I’m not sure which “bad spirits” he thought to chase away; from my perspective it is himself he needs to be afraid off…
Clearly I am stuck in a culture shock. A few weeks back I believed to have surpassed this stage without significant scarring, but heck…
My work for the restaurant opening is keeping me busy beyond free time. The kitchen equipment is installed by the end of next week and I can start placing the many orders we’ve prepared to get ready when launching the venue in three weeks. Wow, it all is in an end-rush. Long discussions about SOP (standard operational procedures) show great efforts but conflicting understandings about the need and purpose of such documents. I need to learn to sit back and let the actions dictate the time, although I want to be more logical and efficient: The team members have the right to discover the work and energies that are essentual to pull together a functioning operation; even if I feel it ridiculously repeditive. My lesson within has to be “showing patience with other”… I wish we would just shortcut some of the debates, things we talk out that surely are important points but considering the limited time available a stress, some inputs are a bit misplaced and a serious handicap when needing to concentrate on training my kitchen staff. This weekend my friend Jerry is arriving from Los Angeles and still no furniture in my flat. Richard Quest invited me to visit the World Future Summit, a very exciting opportunity. I spend the weekend with him, took him to Vivo city and showing him my new working space; he was impressed. I like is input when I blabber about the many ideas swirling in my head, he is much more worldly wise and a great source when in need of feedback. The coming week my sleeping time will be little, but the excitement keeps my adrenalin rush going. All together a full agenda and I wonder why I am so calm: I guess it has to do with the Tomato Vinegar. Last week we had an introduction by a Japanese self proclaimed Summelier (I know Sommelier…) but this one is vinegar taster, producer and clearly connoisseur. He showed great compassion for his elixirs. I sat with my chefs team in the last row and we sipped too much of the sour testers; They are indeed delicious! They are incredibly smooth and tasty! But when he curdled milk and explained that was a great culinary vinegar preparation, he clashed with our chef hearts… Nevertheless we have already incorporated three recipes in our new menu with his products. Did you know that Auspicious, the very first chef in Roman days to write a cookbook describes cooking and poaching with vinegar? Tomato Vinegar calms the mind. Seriously I will be drinking bottles until the New Years boom has passed. (Don’t drink this when you have a cut on your tongue…)
I’m off to the next meeting, what is it going to be about?? Where is my palm pilot?
raphael

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devil in hiding…

It rains every day a few hours in Singapore, this is the season. Christmas decorations dominate on Orchard Street and unfamiliar over-the-top kitsch in display windows invite the curious; the Asian way of celebrating is a bit extravagant, too many colors, glitter and plastic ornaments mottled with religions create this bizarre advertisement for the shopping crazy inhabitants of this South Asia island. I sometimes feel overwhelmed living in a city with a general curricular activity consisting foremost of eating and shopping.
My position as Executive Chef to this project matures to be an important one for both sides involved. After boot camp last week I found myself bonding with the core team now aboard for quite a while. Although we are still short on chefs for the kitchen operations I am now confident I can realize my menu suggestions into a spa cuisine menu and the excitement is rising with every day we are preparing towards opening day on December 10th. If only I could draw more attention to the fact; a well trained and fully equipped kitchen staff is the core operations of a restaurant… So far I struggle to gain such respect.
Red white & pure is still showing little doubts around me and with me; my personality is unusual composed compared to most chefs out there and I care and brag little about my true talent until I am in cooking action. I long learned that the positive energies of the Universe indeed had a hand in this match making and to fuel optimistic energies are the most important in our successful forthcoming, regardless of titles, money and talent.
This unique chance to study TCM and participate in a venture that concentrates on the well being for others is self rewarding. Everyone puts their soul into this project. No worries – I have not turned religious, just realizing the possibilities of our business and dancing on the ceiling about the chance to be aboard. I have rarely found myself this happy working this hard.
I go to bed tired and have no life on my own. No need for complains; I have still not received my furniture shipped from Los Angeles three month ago.
Check out the sample menus on the website www.redwhitepure.com showing off the way we are incorporating Chinese Herbs in our concoctions. The menus read as an educational experience for the few that want to learn something about the healing entities in all we intake.
My dream is to publish a very special cookbook; A reference in the usage of TCM with healthy food preparations and a home-kitchen guide that can be resourced for all health troubles that are pondering modern city living. People active in nature have a better connection with healing plants compare to city people who are disconnected from instinctive knowledge.  I will present a cookbook that helps anyone  from simply eating better to cancer patients needing a tasty choice to cook. All of us need to re-discover that magic that grows amongst us and learn that prevention is better than healing.
For now I am spending most days educating and often defending my perspectives of cooking and slowly I am gaining respect for my wisdom and my kind personality. I still have not shown my devilish talents on the stove, but soon, soon…

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