Food Diaries: Erwan Heussaff, The Fat Kid Inside

The food lover and kitchen ninja talks about his website, favorite eats, and culinary journey with Rustan's Supermarket.

To meet one of the reasons why I went on my own weight loss and fitness journey was a bit intimidating, but turned out to be a great experience–hey, I even got to interview the man. French-Filipino food enthusiast Erwan Heussaff may be known to others as Esquire's Food and Drinks Editor, or a famous food blogger, or that handsome boyfriend and/or brother of that beautiful female celebrity. To me, he's someone who inspired me to lose weight and keep fit, and enjoy cheat meals (because we have to live a little) with delicious food. In an old post over at his blog The Fat Kid Inside (www.thefatkidinside.com), he shared his life diet and shopping list — some tips and tricks, essentials to purchase in the supermarket, and other helpful information on good and healthy eats.


The author with Erwan Heussaff

It was a natural choice, then, for Erwan to link up with Rustan's Supermarket, a food source that he visits regularly for all his cooking needs. "I shop there all the time, so this is a natural fit for me," he shares, and adds too that he'd drop by occasionally in his pambahay since there's a Rustan's very near where he lives. Part of his tie-up with the supermarket is to have personal recommendations highlighted on his blog, such as must-try items and recipes that use products that can be conveniently bought at Rustan's Supermarket.


Erwan with Frances Yu, Vice President of Rustan's Supermarket

British brand Waitrose was showcased at the press event, with Erwan giving the media a taste of how Waitrose products can be incorporated into easy-to-make tasty dishes at home. "This brand offers the same experience that Rustan's provides its customers–quality premium ingredients at great prices," he is quoted saying. You can now stock up on Waitrose's premium yet affordable pantry essentials, exclusively available at Rustan’s Supermarket in the Philippines.


Erwan shares how you can use Waitrose Seriously dipping sauce to make desserts extra special: heat it up and indulge with vanilla ice cream and fried bananas!
 

Appetizer tip from Erwan: use Waitrose Sugo Al Carciofi Artichoke Sauce to add more flavor to your bruschetta. Personalize it with some grated cheese and stir-fry white mushrooms and onions.

After the press lunch, I got to chat with the food lover and kitchen ninja. Erwan shared with me stories about cooking, his website, favorite eats, and other fun food stuff.

When did your interest in cooking begin?

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Erwan: It started when I was around eight or ten? I'm not so sure. We were in Canada, and my older sister (not Solenn, the other one, Vanessa) and some of her friends were in a house. They were talking about Salpicao, and how to make Salpicao, a recipe. I was just a kid hanging around, listening in. And then I went home, no one was home, then I realized how hungry I was. Then I remembered all the ingredients they were listing down. I went to the fridge, grabbed the ingredients, and cooked it–and realized that it was actually really good. Well, for me back then–I dunno now–but it was really good! And that's when I realized that you can cook based on flavors and just knowing a certain taste in memory, and I found that really cool, that synergy. And from then on I went on a rampage just eating absolutely anything and everything I wanted, anything I can get my hands on. I've eaten some really weird stuff, but I'm always game to try it, and I mean, that's why I got fat—'cause I would eat anything at any time! At two in the morning I would wake up and I'd be, "Huh, I feel like having duck confit," or something, and I'd make duck confit! So it's terrible.

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So there was no influence on cooking–like with family, anyone cooking in the house…?

We've always enjoyed our food, but never anyone that said, "Hey, let me teach you how to do this and that." My dad makes one dish really well; my mom's a really good cook. I think maybe just the joy of eating is what probably influenced me to pursue it.

Do you still remember the very first dish that you think you cooked really well?

Hmm. I used to do this one thing when I was younger. Every Christmas and New Year's, I'm the one that cooks for my family. And the first time I did it was when I was fifteen, and we had twenty guests–I've never cooked for more than five people–and some of the people that were eating were just real hardcore foodies. People who actually knew their stuff, some of them were writers. And I remember making a lobster tail using a local lobster–the curacha, 'sea ipis' I think they call it? I made that with super simple vanilla butter cream, just off the top of my head, because my other cream broke while I was making it, so I switched. When I made that, it was actually really good, and it was one of the first times that the whole dinner I did without recipes. It was just based on taste, so I was like, "that would go with that, that would go with that."

So when you cook, you're playing it by ear.

Yeah, it's exactly that. Even the blog, I'm terrible at giving detailed instructions, that's why I like doing videos so that people can actually see what I am doing [http://vimeo.com/erwanheussaff/videos]. Even like, I'll be baking something, I'll be watching TV, and then my friends will be like, "How much longer?" and I don't know. And I'll be watching TV and then all of a sudden I can smell something or I'll hear something, and I know it's done. I'm not saying I have a sixth sense or anything, I'm saying literally, I walk into the kitchen and then I pull it out and it's done. For me, cooking is not just about the taste, but everything else that goes with it. And one good way how I try to tell people that, is to take ingredients and smell them, one after the other. If the smells don't match, then it's not gonna match into the plate. But if you sense that there's a combination in the scents, a smell that works? Then you can use them.

What inspires you when you cook, like when you create new dishes?

Everything that's fresh. When I see produce that's fresh, I'll get excited to actually use them. I use frozen food and everything when you need to, you don't have a choice sometimes. But I like to look at what's in season, and look at what I can do. Like right now, mangoes are in season, so I've been filling myself up with mangoes.

You're both French and Filipino. What are your favorite French and Filipino food?

French–anything with butter. I love butter, butter, butter. My personal god is butter. There's a French cake called the Kouign-amann. My dad's from this part of France where they do this butter cake which is literally—picture taking fifteen, twenty croissants and stacking them until they're this thin; in between each layer you put butter, and then you caramelize sugar in between and you just eat the whole thing. It's just magnificent.

And then the Filipino, I love Binakol. I love Filipino soups. I think if there were two types of dishes that would probably launch the Philippine cuisine internationally, it's sisig–internationally, the people would love that with beer and anything–and the others are the soups. And I think out of all our Filipino soups, the one that doesn't get enough attention is binakol.

How did your website The Fat Kid Inside start?

I hate to say this, she'll take too much credit for it–it was because of Isabelle Daza. I was working at Russia at that time, and she's always loved eating, and she told me, "Okay, I really want to learn how to make a chocolate lava cake," and I was in Siberia, obviously I wasn't going to do it by phone. So I said, "Okay I'll make a video." I made a really crappy one, using a point and shoot camera, not even with a tripod! I was holding it. I think I didn't even have any baking ware so I baked the thing in a teacup, put it in the oven, then shared the video, I put that on my personal Facebook. I got like, a hundred plus comments, like, "That's awesome! I didn't know it's that simple," and I think the format of people just seeing the hands, like a personal point of view, POV. So when that caught on, when I got back to the Philippines, I got a lull, I got bored, so I said, okay, let's try making a website. So that's how it started.

There are so many food concepts and restaurants opening up this year…

Yeah. Too many!

What do you think are the trends for this year?

I think we're gonna be going into more fast-casual style of eating. It's not fast food anymore, it's not sit-down eating anymore. It's food that is usually seen in fast foods–tacos, burgers, salads, what not–but in a sense, it's served as fast as a fast food joint, but it's more elevated, and you taste the flavor. I think that's the massive trend, that you're gonna see all over.

If you had to cook a nice meal in thirty minutes, what would you prepare?

Porkchops! Pan-seared, butter, olive oil, thyme, lemons, roasted garlic. And then I'd make a quick chutney to go with it, then some sort of shaved cabbage.

If you could dress any way you want in the kitchen, what would you wear?

I cook shirtless. I burn myself all the time.

Can you share your earliest food memory?

My grandfather, on my dad's side. They were a very simple family, very poor. I remember one time I came to his house, he made me eat boiled potato. And I just remember the steam coming out of the boiled potato when I was cutting into it, and just a dollop of salted butter right on top. And I remember that bite of just sweet and salty, earthy… Ah, perfect!

What can you never give up eating?

Steak. Meat.

Is there one thing you won't eat?

There's this Japanese delicacy called Natto. I tried it once, and it's fermented soybeans, and it is absolutely disgusting. I've tried bull's testicles, but I'd prefer that over fermented soybeans.

What food do you crave when you are sick?

Tinola, actually.

How about an ingredient that you love to cook with?

As stupid as it sounds, chicken. I love cooking chicken.

If a restaurant were to serve a dish called 'The Erwan,' what would it be?

Something with peanut butter.  A lot of peanut butter, and ice cream. I'm not a desserts guy, but when it comes to peanut butter and ice cream, that's me. Me on a plate. 

If you were to accompany me on a food trip in your neighborhood, where would you bring me and what would you order?

I'm a Makati boy. So we would go to XO 46 Bistro Filipino, I'd order their Laing, it's really good. And then they make a Bangus Belly Salpicao, which is really cool. And then I'd go to Caruso for pizza, Ukkokei for ramen, Va Bene for pasta.

What would be your Last Supper meal?

Death row type of thing? Boiled potatoes, a glass of really really old and expensive red wine, and just a simple BLT.

 

 

 

Visit Erwan's food blog, The Fat Kid Inside (www.thefatkidinside.com), to check out his recommendations and top picks at Rustan’s Supermarket. Watch out for his recommended badges, which will be present across Rustan’s Supermarket branches soon.

Rustan’s Supermarkets are located in Ayala Alabang Village, EVIA City, Las Piñas; Paseo Center, Glorietta-Makati; Rockwell Powerplant Mall; The Gateway Mall in Araneta Center along Katipunan Road, Quezon City; in San Antonio Plaza Arcade, Forbes Park, Makati; Greenbelt, Makati; Paseo de Magallanes, along South Superhighway; Corinthian Hills; Ayala Center, Cebu; Arcenas Estates, Banawa, Cebu, and Il Terrazzo Mall, Tomas Morato, Quezon City.

 

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