Taste travellers

Imagine a job that entails travelling around the globe and eating at the world's best restaurants.

Meet Andy Hayler, Steven Plotnicki, Aiste Miseviciute, Perm Paitayawat and Katie Keiko, five jet-setting food bloggers whose lives are chronicled in the documentary film Foodies, which opens here tomorrow.

It follows the quintet as they sample the culinary delights of restaurants such as Noma (Copenhagen), Eleven Madison Park (New York City), Kikunoi (Kyoto), Pierre Gagnaire (Paris) and Longjing Manor (Hangzhou, China).

In e-mail interviews with M, they give us a glimpse of the high life...

Steven Plotnicki
opinionatedaboutdining.com

Plotnicki is a brash, opinionated New Yorker who's not afraid to say it in your face, even if you're an award-winning celebrity chef.

Like many food bloggers, he started blogging in 2004 to achieve "status among the foodie community".

The former music executive said: "A few of us would like to take it further and turn it into an actual business or career."

Out of the five featured in Foodies, Plotnicki is the only one who's done so - with a published restaurant guide Opinion About Dining that ranks among the best in the world.

Aiste Miseviciute

luxeat.com

She's living proof that models do eat.

Calling herself a "destination eater", Miseviciute's website has become almost aspirational, considering her typical modes of transportation are private jets and limos.

But the 33-year-old Lithuanian has come a long way, considering she grew up in a country where food was scarce.

"We couldn't find many products," she said. "I'd queue with my mother for bananas."

Branching out into food blogging was her way of indulging in two of her passions - food and photography.

"I am very fortunate indeed... But there are millions of people who travel to another part of the world just to enjoy a beach."

Food blogging is still a hobby, added Miseviciute, who hasn't "earned any money out of it".

She funds her expeditions through modelling and stock photography production.

Andy Hayler
andyhayler.com

This British blogger made a name for himself as the food critic who has dined at all the three-Michelin -starred restaurants in the world - not once but five times.

Hayler, 53, who made his fortune as a data warehousing professional, started his website in 1994, just after he published his book, The London Transport Restaurant Guide.

He became interested in high-end dining in the mid-1980s after a "truly memorable meal at Restaurant Jamin in Paris", he said.

"Michelin for me is simply a way to prioritise which restaurants to visit," he said.

"Although I do not always agree with their assessments, their system of anonymous inspections with no fees of any kind means that at least their assessments are honest, and I have found it generally a fairly reliable guide to high-end restaurants."

Katie Keiko
k-luxedining.com

A relative newcomer to the scene, this Hong Kong native gave up blogging a few times as it was a "very time-consuming process, almost like a part-time job".

Foodies sees Keiko starting out as a novice reviewer, learning the ropes from restaurateurs and chefs in her home country before hitting the food mecca, New York City. The film also shows her receiving puzzling responses from her friends, who say she's wasting her hard-earned income.

"Spending money on food has yet to become a mainstream hobby," she said.

Keiko, who is pursuing a diploma in wine and spirits in Hong Kong, added: "People might think it's showing off wealth when you post pictures of fine dining."

Perm Paitayawat
theskinnybib.com

Unlike his co-stars, this Thai-born London-based blogger is financially supported by his parents, something he knows doesn't sit well with many.

It doesn't help that in Foodies, he is shown travelling to far-flung gourmet places just to indulge his taste buds.

"Travelling just to eat sounds like a greedy habit, and for many, it really is a greedy habit," he admitted, adding that he has received much criticism over the years, ranging from his style of writing to how he reviews restaurants.

Paitayawat, who pays for about "70 per cent" of his meals, added that the backlash only pushes him to improve by "working in restaurants, helping (to) create menus and cooking for paying customers".


This article was first published on July 15, 2015.
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