We are excited to introduce to you Jon Garwood, a member of our community who dared to chase his dreams! We met Jon when he attended our Chinatown's Dim Sum and Dumpling Crawl in August. Back then Jon was very excited about joining a culinary school in Bangkok. Here he is telling us more about his journey.
What got you into cooking and when did you decide you had to take it more seriously?
My mum and grandmas on both sides were all great home cooks, from a young age I used to love helping them baking cakes and puddings, cooking pies and roast dinners. I became a keen home cook myself as an adult, using cooking as a stress reliever from my previous job and as an excuse to get friends or family together for a party. Once I quit my desk job, I decided, with strong encouragement from people I love, to follow a passion and see where it would take me, so I enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu in Bangkok to learn French cuisine, with a plan to just study for 3 months. I loved it so much I decided to carry on and do the 2nd part in London and am about to graduate the last 3 months back here in Bangkok.
Where do you get inspiration for your dishes? Which cuisine is your favourite?
I get asked this quite often, it's a hard question to answer and changes often. I would say right now my favourite cuisine is Thai food, being here in Thailand, on weekends off from French cooking school, I often go to day courses to learn to make Thai dishes. I've barely scratched the surface of this amazing cuisine. I get my inspiration from a countries street food, it's a real insight into the culture of a country and the stalls are often run by such great characters. I also love the idea of fusion food, adding an ingredient or technique from another region to change a dish and give people something familiar but a little different.
I knew I would enjoy it, but I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did, the chefs are amazingly passionate teachers and have taught me lots of new techniques and important skills, from butchering whole animals to filleting fish and making sure to use as much of a precious ingredient as you can. The best thing are the other students I have met, from all walks of life, cultures and experience levels. We came together as a great team and I know we will be lifelong friends, I can't wait to see the successes they all go on to have.
What do you think about getting to know different cultures through food?
Without fail, the first thing I do in a new country is go to the market, find some street food or go on a food tour organised by a local, there is no better way to begin to understand a culture, its influences, the traditions and passions of its people by seeing the typical food people eat there and how they eat it. The more places I visit the more threads of commonality I see running through them. Places that on the surface seem so very different, but deep down, the heart of any country and its communities are friends and family sharing food and drink and laughing together.
What would you say to those who are passionate about cooking but hesitate to take it further?
I say go for it, life is too short, you can always find an excuse to not do something, to put something off, that's easy. Have the courage to step out your comfort zone and do something you love. The more people I meet, the more I find the happier ones are those that do this. It's impossible not to sound like a cheesy cliche, but chase those dreams, no one else will do it for you, take that first step and see where it will take you.