Sunday, April 8, 2018

Follow the Chef Project Taiwan: Jeek Pan, walking his own path

Last year, I stumbled upon a video demonstration like I've never seen before. It was a quite shocking depiction of how to cook Taiwanese braised pork, portraying every step like a kind of Kung Fu move, combining the power of cooking, music, calligraphy and video production that left a huge impression, so much so I made the dish myself, even if there was no clear recipe given.

After that, I began following Jeek Pan, the young man behind this video and came to understand that over the last couple years he has been churning food-related productions of all sorts, be it videos, photos, articles, collaborations and even random pop-ups. During this trip to Taipei, I couldn't miss the chance to make this new friend.

This picture shows everything about Jeek--flamboyance and hospitality.

Turns out that Jeek is a 27 year-old chef who grew up in a family which ran a mass-market buffet restaurant, and used to be part of Chef Andre Chiang's team at Robin's Grill-- Regent Hotel. What he does now, though, is a little more abstract.

With his proficiency in photography, video production and social media, he has decided not to 'trap' himself in a restaurant, even if that might be the most tried-and-tested way to showcase one's culinary talent. He feels that doing creative customized food collaborations and inventive random events might be more value-adding for him towards his goal, for the near future at least.

Another common sight of him-- his signature cap and camera.
To most, that is a daring proposition, for a chef to take on the world using online marketing and social media. For me though, being in social media for the past few years, I feel that he has the character and unique image to do well. He knows what he's good at. Moving forward, it's how he can continue to improve and seek breakthrough in both his cookery and production quality.

If his ultimate goal is to play a big part in influencing the public to portray the chef's profession in a new light, to encourage appreciation of cooks as artists/craftsmen rather than a path chosen by ones with no 'better opportunity', Jeek's unique method-of-choice seems like the most efficient way to garner eyeballs.

Stranger in Bangkok X Jeek's Foodmaze

So, for all who are interested, do follow his website吉克廚男日記, or if you cannot read chinese, his IG account, where he often shares in English, to give him a pat on his back as he arrows ahead in the direction he created for himself, on a road less traveled.

PS. 号外. During our brunch meet-up, Jeek suddenly popped a peculiar question.

Jeek to us, "So, which school were you from in Singapore?" Photo credit: Jeek's Foodmaze

There was an awkward silence from us. Why did he ask? Would he know even if we told him?

"华侨中学 (The Chinese High School aka HCI as it's known now)," Junxiong answered.

"I am also from the same school!" Jeek replied.


Life is a tricky little thing. Everyone takes a different road, meeting different people in the process.

Somehow, nothing happens by chance, the Universe will find its way to link the right people together. Never suppress the little hints life drops you along the way, or you might miss out on the biggest prizes.

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