On the Spot: Erwan Heussaff
The man of the moment dishes on his fave bands, the mental side of triathlon, and the pursuit of happiness.
(SPOT.ph) If you check Twitter, there are two things people are always tweeting Erwan Heussaff about: food and health. It doesn’t come as a surprise as the French-Filipino gent did make a name for himself through his food blog, The Fat Kid Inside. Consisting of all original recipes, every entry or video posted is a sure feast for the eyes (and we don’t just mean the food).
Having been a former fat kid (he lost 91 lbs.), Erwan cooked his way to tip-top shape-cooking his own meals and making sure he gets the right amount of exercise daily (did we mention he’s now a triathlete?). He isn’t a model or an actor, and in this age where good food is easy to get (thank you fast food and instant products), it is this kind of dedication to staying fit and healthy that has impressed and inspired people to do the same.
Erwan also writes for the gentleman’s magazine, Esquire Philippines, has a 9 to 7 job as a Supply Chain Manager, and has a sizzling new TV show called Hot Guys Who Cook. Luckily, he’s managed to slip in some time to chat with SPOT.ph about his show, being a triathlete, his love for movies, and what he considers as an aphrodisiac.
SPOT.ph’s It Guy of 2012, uncovered. Read on for more.
Photo by Ramona Gonzalez. Video produced by Marco Subido.
From Spot TV
You starred in that viral video with your sister, your girlfriend, Liz Uy, Bea Soriano... So, what would a girl have to do for you to call her, maybe?
Oh God. [laughs] I hate that you just did that. Uhm...for me, it really has to be a whole package. It has to be someone that’s successful, smart, a go-getter. I don’t like people who are happy just not doing much. I want someone that’s busy, that’s, you know, really loving life, and taking advantage of life, as much as possible.
How was it like when you first started blogging? Was it ever weird or awkward making the videos?
Well, yea, I do all the videos by myself. I record everything with just a simple tripod and I have to move it around myself. It was strange at first especially if other people were there watching. The first time I [recorded a video], I was doing it at my parents’ house, so there were people going in and out of the kitchen. It was super awkward but then once I started doing it in my own apartment, all of a sudden it just became very comfortable. And since I cook for myself everyday, it was really just putting the camera on and instead of just [cooking] quietly, I’d just say something and that’s how it started.
Are there any dishes that you would like to make but have not learned yet?
Oh, there’s so many, so many. Like, dishes in particular, no. But one of my dreams has always been to just travel the world and in each specific country, work with a chef from there-not professionally of course-but just for fun and to really learn the types of food. One of those countries would be Vietnam. I’d love to explore South America and Africa as well cause I have no idea-well, I know of, of course, most of the cuisines from there-but I don’t know the day-to-day food and that’s something I’d like to discover.
Where did you learn to cook?
Well, I have a business degree, actually. It’s not food-oriented at all. But I always had that creative side of me that wanted to just, you know, start up with food. I really started with food-I remember this really clearly-my sister was talking to a friend and they were discussing on how to make salpicao. I was like, 9 years old or something? And then I went home [and] I got really hungry. All of a sudden I’m like,"’Okay, might as well try it from what I heard them say." [I] tried the salpicao, and it was pretty good. Well, I remember it to be pretty good. I don’t know now if it would still be good. [Laughs] And yeah, it just amazed me that through memory alone and through my taste buds I could remake something the way I wanted it to be tasted. So, from there I just started cooking, individually, at home, reading lots of cookbooks and stuff. So that’s how I really started how to cook. But did I ever learn it professionally? No, no.
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
That’s tough, that’s really tough. I love Requiem for a Dream. I love the movie Seven from back then. I love movies where men act like supermen like 300 and Gladiator and whatnot.Lord of the Rings! [I’m] a huge fan. So I’m super excited about The Hobbit.
What’s your idea of an epic music festival lineup?
I’ve been to a couple festival and I’ve seen...like this summer, for example, we’re going to a festival in Portugal so we’re going to be able to see The Cure, Mazzy Star-who hasn’t performed in years cause she became agoraphobic-Mumford & Sons, Florence + The Machine, Snow Patrol will be there, Justice will be there... Yeah, so that for me is a great lineup already. Last year we went to Splendour in the Grass in Brisbane. [It’s] a really cool festival, like, they built this really cool village. And we got to see Kanye West, Coldplay, [and] a lot of Australian bands. But then my ultimate guilty pleasure-Oh! I’m seeingRadiohead, by the way, in Portugal. Sorry to make you jealous-I guess I’d love to see aSmiths reunion in a festival. I saw Morrissey live when he was here-amazing. Bon Iver would have to be one of them. I’ve been dying to see him forever. A new artist, Ben Howard, [who] I think is amazing. He’s from the UK. [Also,] Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. I’m super into, like, folk-y indie music. I don’t know why, like, I’m not country or southern at all but I just love music that’s coming out of there. Yea, just, there’s a lot.
From Spot TV
What’s your pop culture guilty pleasure?
Oooh...I want to say Bieber. No, I’m kidding. Uhm, my pop culture guilty pleasure...movies? I’m not a snob when it comes to [watching movies], [I’m not] like, "Oh God, I need to only watch, like, Buga," or people like that. I’ll watch any movie, whether it’s ridiculous or not. I remember someone making fun of me because I was downloading Dolphin Tale. I don’t care. It’s probably a terrible movie. I haven’t watched it yet but I downloaded it ’cause, you know, one of these days I might be bored enough to watch it.
You’re on a show...
Oh God. [Chuckles] Yeah...
...it’s called Hot Guys Who Cook...
I actually didn’t know that was the title of the show.
Can you tell us what it’s about?
Exactly what its title says. It’s hot guys-I don’t know who rates the guys-who cook. The team’s from Singapore. It’s Beach House productions, I think? It’s a Singaporean production company. So that’s why it’s shown all over Southeast Asia. And so, they came here [and] it was really great to work with them because, you know, they were used to working in food shows so it showed me how professional they were [with] their shots and everything so it was great to learn from them. The concept is, basically, about guys who cook for themselves everyday. From what I’ve heard, some of the guys they got really can’t cook and some of them can cook so that’s what makes it fun, I guess.
You talk about eating healthy and exercising a lot, and now you’re a triathlete?
Yes! I can finally say it. I am a triathlete!
Did you ever think you would be living this kind of lifestyle?
No, no, not at all. I used to smoke heavily. I [used to smoke two packs a day]. I drank-well, not like [an] alcoholic-but, you know, I drank beers at night and I was big. I was really fat, like, 240 pounds. So, no, I never, never thought that I’d completely 360 and become someone that drinks just one glass of red wine every night, cut smoking cold turkey, and yea, eats healthy everyday.
From Spot TV
Besides all the physical activity, what does it take to be a triathlete?
Ooh, that’s a good question. It’s really mental. If you come to triathlon [and if you take a look at] the triathletes, not everyone has a six-pack and is built like a mountain. There are a lot of people with bellies and because it’s long-distance it’s not really...yea, okay, you lose weight...but you also eat a lot cause you need to keep up, you know, the fuel and everything. A lot of people, that’s where they’re lacking-the nutrition part of it to compliment their training-but you see these people, some are like 40, 50, 60 even, that are training and it seems like it’s not harder for them than someone that’s 20 years old either because it’s more your body getting used to it and it’s very mental. There’s a huge mental side of triathlons. Like what I was telling people of my last race, that’s the longest conversation I’ve ever had with myself in my life. The gun starts and for 3-5 hours you’re just talking to yourself like, "Hurry up, come on you can do better," and you see people passing you, you’re passing people...it’s really mind games and telling yourself, "Okay you’re not going fast enough," ’You’re going too fast." And then at that last hour of the race, you’re usually just cursing yourself out, you’re like "Idiot, why are you doing this to your body? This is the stupidest thing you’ve ever endeavored to do," and then when you’re done, though, it’s such a great feeling.
What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for a girl?
I’m a crafty person so I like to build things. I’ll build like boxes with a bunch of memorabilia that I’ll make, like, origami or small paintings or drawings and stuff like that. Something I like to do is put a whole year into a box. I did that once and it’s daunting to think how do you put that many memories in a box. Usually people will do scrapbooks or things like that but I built a whole box with different memorabilia-mixed media from videos, music, origami, and everything done from scratch for the whole year. [That’s] one of the most romantic things I think I’ve done. [It] took me such a long time to make, too. [chuckles]
From Spot TV
Do you have any secret, aphrodisiac dishes that you’d like to share with us?
Uhm, I don’t think oysters are an aphrodisiac but stereotypically they’re considered one. I could eat like 70 to 80 oysters in a sitting-no problem. But for me, aphrodisiac is more of a mental thing. So if you really want to impress someone-I’ve talked about this in Esquire before-like, if you want to impress someone [or] you’re bringing someone home or something like that, make cookies. Put cookies in the oven cause once you have cookies in the oven within twenty minutes your whole apartment or your whole house will smell like cookies. And when someone walks into your apartment, and it smells like cookies, it’s such a comforting feeling, like, I know when I come to someone’s house and someone’s baking bread or muffins or cupcakes or whatnot, that smell is just so comforting that you feel happy and you’re like, "Okay," you know? So, cookies. Aphrodisiacs. There you go.
And you know this from experience?
No, no, no! [laughs] It’s not from experience but I know how it makes me feel so I’m thinking, it should work the other way around, too.
What are your top 3 favorite restaurants in Manila?
I like Champêtre. It’s in The Fort. It’s a French restaurant. It used to be called Gourmand. [I] love it because it’s just really well-made bistro type French food that’s super classical, nothing that’s super innovative but it’s really tasty and it reminds me of France. Number two, the closest thing we have to good Japanese ramen, I think, is Ukkokei and I love it. Number three, I wish we had a really good Vietnamese place but we don’t so number three would have to be...I like going to Chef Gamboa’s three restaurants: Azuthai, Nihonbashitei, and Milky Way. I can always turn around those three.
Top 3 things that make you happy?
Working out, being able to pig out because of working out, and then...I love that feeling at the end of the day [when], I don’t know, you have a glass of red wine in your hand, [and] you can sit down and truly say, "I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish today". You have nothing pending, you have nothing else to do, and yeah, it’s just, your day’s done. Switch off and that’s it. I like that.