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The Growth in Asia is Astounding.
By Brad Nelson
Saturday, 19th March 2011
 
The first JW Marriott Asia Chefs Workshop has been an unrivaled success;I am in Bangkok, Thailand with 15 of our executive chefs from the JW Marriott Hotels in the Asia Pacific region.

With more and more hotels opening in some of the world's most exciting cities, it is also a phenomenal opportunity to share food stories with other chefs. What an experience it has been to work with this elite group.

As of today we have 17 hotels under the JW Marriott flag in Asia, but soon there will be nearly double that. We need to cultivate and inspire culinary talent to bring this growth to life.

Bangkok is a true food city. Want street food? Every corner seems to have stands and stalls putting out incredibly diverse food.

The national heritage Pad Thai Goong, unimaginable Satay, Som Tum (a spicy papaya salad that I cannot get enough of), curries of coconut and chili and the shrimp soup Tom Yum Goong that is so bright with lemongrass and chili that the only thing to stop you from eating more is the size of the bowl.

It is the fresh fruit however, that will change forever your benchmark of what fruit should taste like. Obviously, I really love the food of Thailand.

Home base has been the spectacular Renaissance Ratchprasong, a simply stunning hotel in the heart of this vibrant city. But I came here to do more than just eat street food. Bringing all of the JW chefs together, our mission has been to chart the course for our growth through unique and focused menus.

We have cooked, shared ideas, worked with suppliers of plates and innovative buffet pieces, heard from seafood specialists on sustainable seafood in Asia, and of course, ate amazing food. Our focus was on defining authentic food, intuitive menus and crafted artistry.

After four days of cooking, the chefs are charging back to their hotels with a mission to get every detail right. Watch out, these guys are motivated!

These chefs come from hotels that I would stack up against any in the world. The JW Marriott Bangkok is still amazing at the age of 13, JW Marriott Shenzen is stunning and just open barely a year, JW Marriott Hong Kong, has been the best in the city for 25 years, and the JW Marriott Mumbai is an oasis of luxury in a city of millions.

We calculated that there was more than 300 years of culinary experience cooking together over the last few days. Pretty impressive. Last year on a tour through Asia I met a young sous chef at the JW Marriott Shenzen in China, who impressed me with his passion and enthusiasm.

Jack Zhou is now the hotel's executive chef and is a testament to the opportunities created by our rapid growth. I am really proud of the team of chefs we have throughout Asia, in all of our brands. This group from the JW Marriott Hotels has truly impressed me.

I will be talking a lot more about Asia in the future, but my suggestion is to see the real thing and check out the hotels where chefs like Jack are creating amazing food experiences. If you are a "foodie," get to Asia, it is worth every minute of the long plane ride.

What's on YOUR plate today? Mine - Dim Sum for breakfast, Pad Thai for lunch, and Peking Duck for dinner.

My name is Brad Nelson and I am Marriott's corporate chef and vice president of culinary. I grew up in Seattle, Washington where I developed the passion for food that continues to follow me throughout my career. We savored the first salmon of the season, shopped Pike Place Market, grew vegetables in the family garden, and learned to respect nature's simple, clean flavors, which I strive to instill into the philosophy of our numerous global kitchens.

More significant has been the daily food discoveries that still enlighten me, proving the old adage no one knows it all. That is never more accurate than in the food world.


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