Letting culture inspire my craft. Growing up we hardly left New Zealand, not only is it so far away from everything but having a small family restaurant doesn’t make it easy. Owning a restaurant may look glamorous, but through the years, I watched my parents put profits back into the business to make it better, to keep up with the market, to pay more and get more talented staff, it’s a gruelling game. I have so much respect for small restaurant owners, those guys work it, you have to, if times are hard why would you pay someone $20 an hour to wash dishes when you can do it yourself. The only outside cultural influence I noticed in New Zealand was food, we are such a young country, and our cuisine is heavily influenced by food capitals of the world, Japan, Spain, Italy, to name a few, Because of this, I know how to make classical french sauces from culinary school, where they still seem to teach concepts irrelevant to the forever changing hospitality industry, but knowledge is power, and I’m happy I learned them. It wasn’t until my little brother and I jet set to Europe, a couple of grand in the bank and no plans apart from finding the coast, and drive it. We ended u in France, an old country like we had never seen before, the people are walking stereotypes of themselves, culture shock set in, not even knowing how to fill up our car with petrol on these foreign pumps. We were lost. Not necessarily in a bad way, its good to be taken out of your comfort zone, the coast of small french towns, even smaller farmers markets, exactly as you imagine them, selling the most amazing array of cheeses, breads, pates quickly turned into Spanish markers, Spanish waves, the shock as we drove over the border into San Sebastian, only to hear people speak a different language, the first we didn’t even come close to mastering, I could barely ask for a bag to put my groceries in. The northwest part of Spain is magnificent, streets filled with tapas bars, holes in the wall with no menu, specializing in 1 type of anchovy, or the best Iberico ham, it’s easy to say after visiting 4 or 5 different bars a day, eating the worlds best produce, no longer being able to afford accommodation, we made the move to sleep in the car, our spending was not sustainable and that became very apparent very quickly. We had a small van named Annabelle after a bell I bought in a market for 1 euro found its way to hanging off the mirror by a hippy style bracelet we had come so accustomed to wearing, the two front seats turned on a swivel to face the back, so we boxed out the gap in the middle with bags and clothes to form a hammock-like platform in the car, it was not comfortable, but we were now Ferrell cats living at the beach, so any shelter was welcome. We found Portugal, unknown to us, it was connected to the west coast of Spain. I remember driving past the ‘welcome to Portugal’ sign and shay looking at me saying ‘fuck we are in Portugal’.While we could not have conversations with locals because we hardly touched a city, ‘English is not prevalent in the provinces’, we did learn to communicate through food, we were camping on the beach, just outside a small town south of Porto called Over, no money, killing time before a festival 3 weeks into the future, we had 1 pot to cook in, and no camp stove, we would light two fires daily, one for porridge in the morning, the second for miso soup and noodles, or cabbage and lentils. We had no paper to light the fire, so we would take it in turns to read a chapter of the only book we had, to rip out the read pages and burn them. We foraged for what we could, wild mushrooms, fennel, frequently going to watch locals scrapping for sardines, caught in the local fishing nets, fish too small for the avid fishermen to worry about keeping, through this experience it became more and more apparent that food was its own language, to be spoken with no words, in any culture, people just understood, traveling and eating was speaking to me in ways I had never felt before.