Sunday, October 5, 2014

Q & A with AFC's Matt Basile of "Rebel without a Kitchen" on the joys of street food and what a great city Philadelphia is.


Travelife Magazine Managing Editor Ceia Ylagan does a one-on-one interview with Matt Basile of Asian Food Channel's "Rebel without a Kitchen" television show fame.

In this interview, the young entrepreneur and food lover reveals his passion for his craft, as well as his insights on street food, the food business -- and of course, traveling.

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HOW DO YOU THINK ASIANS WILL TAKE TO THE FOOD TRUCK CONCEPT?

Street food is quite popular in Asia, so I think it’s a no brainer that people will take to it well. The truck is just a vessel. Street food is the style of cooking, and the food truck is just how it’s packaged.

WHICH DO YOU LIKE BETTER: THE FOOD TRUCK OR THE RESTAURANT?

I’ll be honest: I actually like the food truck more.

There, I get to see everyone that we feed.

There is no bigger adrenaline rush than opening up the window and seeing a really long line, and you’re just plowing through the orders. I love the restaurant, too, because I have more space there where I can have a better area to work in terms of kitchen size.


WHAT WAS IT LIKE FILMING “REBEL WITHOUT A KITCHEN”?

For the show, I got to travel across North America and do a food event in every city.

I got to learn what their proprietary dishes are and I got to put my own unique spin on it. Some were very receptive, but some were “You’ve disgraced our national dish!”

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HOW HAS YOUR FIRST TIME IN ASIA BEEN LIKE SO FAR?

It was amazing!

I ate at a hawker stall everyday in Singapore. I would have loved to include Bangkok and Taipei, though, as those are also cities big on street food.

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WHICH CITIES HAVE LEFT A CULINARY IMPRESSION ON YOU?

In the United States, I was a very big fan of Austin, Texas. It was an amazing city – very cultural, very artistic, very liberal. The people were very trendy. There was a certain amount of casualness there that I really respected.

There’s one place I like called “La Barbecue,” which I believed to be the best barbecue place in the world. It was the best meat I’ve ever had! The guy who makes it approaches it like it’s a science.

Philadelphia was also a phenomenal city – a big food city. It’s an East Coast city and they’re very vocal there – you know immediately if they like you or not. I loved the craft beer scene there, which was phenomenal. And everything there came in a sandwich – and I’m a big sandwich guy! I thought it was great.

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WHICH DO YOU LIKE MORE: TO EAT OR TO COOK?

I prefer to eat because if you just cook because it’s your job then it becomes just a process. But if you love to eat, you will be constantly seeking for the next ingredient or type of food to try.

Travel plays hand and hand with that because eventually you outgrow your surroundings so you have to explore and move out.

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WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO NEXT FOR A FOODIE TRIP?

I have never said that I’m looking for a specific next destination.

I’ve always said, “Let’s see what travel opportunities come up, and while I’m there, I will find what I need to find for the food.” A lot of my travels just naturally come up, and while I’m there, I will end up finding what I need to find.


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WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU DO WHEN YOU TRAVEL?

The first thing I do in any city I travel to is to always eat where the locals eat. I hate eating the touristy stuff. It’s not why I travel. I immediately want to eat at the hawker stalls – like here in the Philippines, I ate at the dampa.

I think if you’re eating the local stuff, that’s how you truly get inspired to create new dishes from. Someone once told me that I get food differently than other people because I cook street food. Street food is really the food of the people.

So if you want to understand more the people of a city more, you go to street food first because it tells you a lot about the people.



“Matt Basile’s Kitchen Revolution Tour” was proudly supported by Greenbelt Malls, Ayala Malls, Imarflex, SkyCable, EDSA Shangri-La, and the College of St. Benilde.

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