Rain Storms and a Water Blessing

Finally settled in to Bangkok and trying to figure out all of the ins and outs of this area. My first weekend out on the town was dedicated to figuring out where I’m located on the map. With the advice of some of my coworkers I decided to get on the BTS (Sky train) and see some of the other parts of town. After doing some research I found Sunkumvit soi 38 is the place to get a variety of Thai street food.

soi38 street food

Photo by Brian Brindza

Hitting the streets and finding my way around on public transit was not as hard as I thought it would be.  I felt very out of place being a tall American on the train. I must have looked out of place too, because two girls were sneaking pictures of me on the train. After getting to my stop I walked down what most would consider a dirty alley, but it had “tons” of street vendors with amazing food, serving a mix of locals and even some western customers. I walked up and down looking to see what caught my eye as well as, what would be “safe” to eat.

Sitting down at a small table, I was approached by an older Thai woman who didn’t speak any English. She handed me a menu completely in Thai. Using the little Thai that I did understand, I ordered some Larb Moo, and Som Tum, a classic Isaan meal of spicy ground pork and sweet spicy papaya salad. Most Thai restaurants in the West reflect Bangkok-style cuisine but, authentic Thai food varies from region to region based on geography and local history. The food of Isaan has more in common with that of Laos and is known for being very spicy and pungent, seasoned with fresh herbs and fermented fish. It also features some of Thailand’s spiciest salads. I was only half way through my meal when it started to look like I’d soon be experiencing my first Bangkok rain storm. It quickly started pouring buckets, and I decided it was time to head home.

nwf25-2

Photo by Brian Brindza

On Friday I was asked to join the Newly Weds Foods Thailand 25th anniversary celebration. Little did I know I was about to get a huge dose of culture. I arrived at the manufacturing plant in Bang Phil and saw  a huge tent covering a number of Thai themed food stations that had been set up. I was in heaven from all of the new smells and sights I was taking in. As I walked to the front door, I noticed the reception desk was gone. In its place were bright red floor mats and nine pillows arranged for seating. Everyone was taking their shoes off so I followed their example. I was told we were about to sit down and pray with monks.  I was about to be a part of a Buddhist blessing with monks! Having never participated in anything like this before, I felt very much honored to have been invited to partake in this ceremony.

I was very excited to see this happen and of course had lots of questions. Nine monks entered the room and sat down. The room had filled with all of the Newly Weds Foods Thai employees, so I kept to the back of the room trying to take it all in. After an hour of monks chanting in Pali, one of the monks came in to the crowd and blessed each individual with water and a prayer. It was a very unique ceremony to be part of, and an experience I won’t forget. I was feeling blessed and ready to take on another weekend adventure, so I headed home to good old Sukumvit 11.

Brian Brindza is a Chicago based Newly Weds Foods chef who for a few months will be working out of the Thailand R&D center and providing culinary support and coverage in the Asia/Pacific region.  Not only will he be exposed to new trends and ingredients from that part of the world but, he will be sharing his knowledge of US food trends with the group over there. This exchange of ideas is at the core of Newly Weds Foods commitment to bring new tastes from all over the world to your product portfolio. Follow Brian as he experiences Thailand and other locales first hand.

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Welcome to Bangkok

Brian Brindza is a Chicago based Newly Weds Foods chef who for a few months will be working out of the Thailand R&D center and providing culinary support and coverage in the Asia/Pacific region.  Not only will he be exposed to new trends and ingredients from that part of the world but, he will be sharing his knowledge of US food trends with the group over there. This exchange of ideas is at the core of Newly Weds Foods commitment to bring new tastes from all over the world to your product portfolio. Follow Brian as he experiences Thailand and other locales first hand.

The view from my new apartment

The view from my new apartment (Photo by Brian Brindza)

I’m finally on my way to Bangkok!  We left as early as possible to avoid the chaotic traffic, made the flight, and I was comfortably on my way to my new home. I was nervous and excited like a kid on his first day of school. We landed in Bangkok and I was taken to my new home on sukhumvit soi 11, a busy street full of street food, tuk tuks, restaurants and night life.

muaythai

Photo by Brian Brindza

After getting unpacked I was met by David Dawson, Newly Weds Foods’ Commercial Manager. He had offered to show me some Thai culture. He took me to my first Muay Thai match. It was a huge, hot arena and apparently this was a big fight night because the place was packed to the rafters with old Thai men yelling and making bets with each other. It was definitely an interesting experience. After seeing seven fights and the main fight we exited to the bustling street to try some different street foods. The sanitation may have been a little suspect but I dug in and had a few sausages on sticks with some cabbage and Thai chili peppers. I was instantly in love with Thai street food. After a long day I went to bed to get ready for my first to the new office.

The next day I went on a tour of the plant and saw all the different equipment they use. Then I went to see the Thai New Product Development team and meet the people working with me. They were all very enthusiastic, welcomed me and had a lot of questions for me about America. It was a little overwhelming and difficult at times to understand the accented English they spoke. The most confusing part was seeing everyone’s name tags and then having them tell me they have a different name. The Thai way is to have a nickname when you are younger and then use it your whole life. It’s going to make sending emails difficult! After work I settled in and go some rest for my weekend adventures in food.

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The Journey Begins

takeoff

Photo by Brian Brindza

Brian Brindza is a Chicago based Newly Weds Foods chef who for a few months will be working out of the Thailand R&D center and providing culinary support and coverage in the Asia/Pacific region.  Not only will he be exposed to new trends and ingredients from that part of the world but, he will be sharing his knowledge of US food trends with the group over there. This exchange of ideas is at the core of Newly Weds Foods commitment to bring new tastes from all over the world to your product portfolio. Follow Brian as he experiences Thailand and other locales first hand.

The journey to Bangkok was not an easy one. I left Chicago early on Sunday morning with two large bags and a small back pack. Everything one would need for an extended trip.

My family and girlfriend drove me to O’Hare Airport to see me off and say goodbyes. I made my way through security and got one last Italian Beef sandwich before I left. That’s when the first hiccup in my travels happened. After sitting on the runway for 45 minutes the pilot announced we needed to return to the gate due to a mechanical issue. Would it be a 10 minute delay…or 10 hours? That was the question and the answer was more the latter, which had a ripple effect on the rest of my trip. After six hours of waiting we finally made it in to the air. The 15 hour flight was not as bad as I thought it would be, because of the free movies and long naps. The best part of the flight was when the pilot came on the intercom and told us we were directly over the North Pole. Needless to say, I was ready to land when we arrived in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, my original connecting flight to the Philippines was long gone so I headed to a hotel to sleep for a few hours before catching my re-booked flight in the morning.

The next day I woke up early to get to Manila. Newly Weds Foods was participating in a conference and I was going there to help prepare some new product concepts for review. Thankfully, this flight was on time and everything went smoothly. I took the shuttle to the hotel and met with several Newly Weds Foods Asia/Pacific compatriots to discuss the product presentation scheduled for later in the day. At the conference we prepared all of the products and set up a display for everyone to taste the new concepts. It was a great success and I was very impressed with our Asia/Pacific team. I was very happy to work with them, and look forward to the next time we collaborate.

flightpathOn the third day, I went to our Manila manufacturing plant. Trying to make it without getting hit by a Jeepney or all the other insane drivers was an adventure in and of itself. I went on a plant tour and saw the new R&D labs. I was also able to provide some constructive input to the culinary center Newly Weds Foods is building on-site.  After that I went on a Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) dine around at Market! Market!, a huge six story shopping mall with QSRs stacked on top of each other. I stopped in Philippine based Jollibee and its other concept brands like Chowking, Greenwich Pizza and Red Ribbon. We finished up the visit with a stop at Wendy’s to test out the new Spicy Smack Down Burger. The whole trip was very interesting because I never realized how western the Philippines are as far as fast food goes. After sampling so many different QSRs it’s easy to pick up that the big trend in the Philippine fast food game right now is bone-in fried chicken, spaghetti, and of course hot dogs. Later in the day I was taken out by the Newly Weds Foods Manila staff and treated to some Philippine food and night life. I had to pack it in early because tomorrow I was off to Bangkok, my new home for the next three or so months.

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Welcome to the Newly Weds Foods Blog

Welcome to our blog. Pretty soon we will start filling this with exciting articles about recent trends, where Newly Weds Foods will be, how you can connect with us and other fun articles about our company and our innovations.

Check back at the end of September when we bring you our first series of articles about our American chef’s assignment in Thailand. In an effort to further educate our chefs on world trends and flavors, we will be sending one of our Chicago chefs’ overseas. Learn and grow with him as he reports on his experiences with food, culture, and new tastes.

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