The Doctor Zhivago epic-ally Long Version ( put on your headphones and go get some popcorn )
About pigs and chickens
In a breakfast of bacon and eggs, the chicken is said to be involved, whereas the pig is totally committed. Most of the world’s restaurants are owned and operated by chickens, but long before we ever cooked for a living, the places that attracted us the most as diners were those where passionate pigs put it all on the line.
Whether it was a street vendor in the alleys of Hanoi or a small family-run eatery on the west side of Chicago, chef-owned and driven eateries always seemed to have better and more interesting food. So what if their earnings often fell far below your basic chain restaurant?
It’s not to say that numbers are not important. They are. Even pigs know that. But they also know that if you want to find happiness in this crazy business, then passion for the culinary arts is just as essential. If you have that, and you don’t do something completely stupid, the numbers will take care of themselves.
And now for something completely stupid
Question: If you are going to build a restaurant for foodies and fellow pigs, most of whom live in western cities, why would you choose to locate it about as far as you can get from your target audience, in a place not typically (if ever) associated with these kinds of eateries, where there are no suppliers, few tourists, and you’ll basically have to grow everything you need?
Answer: Camiguin is remote but that’s what has kept it ridiculously beautiful and it was important that we enjoyed living in the place as much as we loved the work. And there is considerable precedent in this ( stupid) business mode1… many of the world’s best places to eat take some effort to reach… probably because pigs seem to think there is more to contentment than a corner lot in some rich chicken’s shopping mall.
Travel is the best education
When we got married, the majority of our free time was spent in and around food. Get the work done, pay the bills, but then it was play time in the kitchen time, all day, all night, all weekend. We made travel the only priority and when we landed in some Asian culinary capital, there were no selfies in front of temples or water fountains. Just eating and watching and learning everything we could, from sun down to wheels up. When we got home, practice, practice, practice… and in time we got pretty good.
With the idea of Guerrera kicking around, eventually one of us had to get even better and Carmel applied and got into Le Cordon Bleu’s professional Thai cuisine program in Bangkok. Forget its generally stellar pedigree, as soon as they told us that the (sort of outrageous) tuition was non-refundable and that they would kick students out for even being late to class, we knew we had the right institution. In a batch full of pro chefs and restaurateurs from around the world, Carmel, a self taught home cook from the Philippines, finished far ahead from where she started.