Food as Gift – Interview with Chef Ake, Thai Essence, West Lafayette, Indiana : part 2 of 3

(con’t) Chef Ake’s early culinary career as a cook, as a caterer and private chef was fueled with the deep belief in food as a precious gift to be shared. He spent his time generously, he cooked extra portions and a variety of foods, all in an effort to make people feel nurtured. He wanted everyone to feel that they had more than enough to eat (the opposite of his childhood limitations). This spirit of generosity served him well by attracting the goodwill of his customers who happily received his culinary gifts. He managed to translate his childhood moments of “slow” consumption, of making enjoyment last, into making food worthy of slow considered eating. Attentive consumers, one could argue, make attentive makers. Chef Ake’s story reminds me of how designer Raymond Loewy speaks of Biberin, a French drink powder, in his autobiography as his first awareness of passion. After all, how can one reproduce a feeling for others without having experienced it oneself?

The lack of Thai food restaurants drew him and Nan to West Lafayette. If “food as gift” sums up his lessons as a consumer, then “we care” is his primary restaurant philosophy. With no formal culinary schooling, his insistence on detail, caring and learning is evident in every aspect of the restaurant. As we walked through the kitchen, he proudly showed me every spotless detail of the kitchen he and Nan designed. His equipment now five years old looks sparkling new. The screws in the mis-en-place tables are cleaned with pins! All sauces are made in house, what is purchased is of high quality. He only serves what he would eat himself. And, from what I saw, his standards are quite high.

Next time, he shows us his philosophy of “intentful” cooking.

Dear Fellow Food Philosophers,

I am collecting food philosophies through three guiding and loose questions:

  1. Consumption: What are your memories of food?
  2. Production: What are your guiding principles for making food?
  3. Demonstration: What would show your philosophy of food?

Please contact me, if you (or anyone you know…..anyone who is involved in making food…not just chefs) would like to share your philosophy with me. Thank you!

Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s