It is always brilliant to catch up with my good mate Chef Martin Blunos. Martin and I go way back and have worked together for more years than I care to remember. It’s been a roller coaster relationship from food festivals to product development and celebrity endorsements, TV, radio and media and I’ve loved every moment.
So, catching up with the man himself on a recent trip to London was a no brainer and as he was due to return to the Far East soon, I got my skates on and headed south. ‘We’ll go to The Ritz,’ he announced. Well, it would be rude not to?
Martin is based in Bangkok, where he as a gorgeous restaurant called, Blunos, (#blunosbkk) on the 14th floor of the Eastin Grand Hotel and he is making fresh waves in TV and broadcasting. It is far removed from his days of fine-dining and has an eclectic modern feel but there is always a nod to his prestigious two Michelin Stars which he attained at his lovely restaurants in Britain. Martin tells me that the arrival of the Michelin Guide is shaking up the Bangkok food scene with innovations and trends but he believes that there is plenty of room for the classic way of eating.
Eating could not get more classic than a meal at The Ritz, in the fabulous St James area of Piccadilly in London. Like stepping back in time, the place probably hasn’t changed since it was created in 1906 and is today considered one of the most prestigious hotels in the world.
I felt like royalty as we were guided into the restaurant. Our corner table overlooked the room and it was hard not to gawp at other diners to see ‘who is who.’ We enjoyed exquisite amuse-bouche and eight blindingly delicious courses, accompanied by the sommelier’s choice of wines.
It was thrilling to see Tom Scade, sous chef, stride through the restaurant to greet Martin. In his tall chef’s hat and long white apron, Tom invited us into the kitchens for a tour. Martin and Tom go way back, Tom trained with Martin and they have worked together at several fine establishments.
It was wonderful to see the connection revived on their home turf, a kitchen – the working environment that has bonded them over the years. The Ritz, when fully staffed has a brigade of 78 chefs and to see the team in action is quite a sight and privilege.
Stars – whether Michelin for Martin or book ratings for my novels are an honour and we both agree that they give proof to your trade but they can also be the monkey on your back. These days, Martin is happy to go with the changes and moving abroad and setting up a new business has been a big challenge. For me, after our catch up I feel inspired to write a Boomerville book based in Bangkok, now that would be a challenge and one that I think my boomer characters would love.
When is the next flight? See you all in Bangkok!