British chef crazy for Filipino cuisine
Jamie Oliver's protege British chef Aaron Craze is mad about regional cuisine
Known for his cooking show Rude Boy Food, British chef Aaron Craze is a bundle of energy and fun.
A former school dropout from "a family of criminals", his life changed when he joined British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's The Fifteen Apprentice Programme at the age of 24. He went on to win reality cooking competition Jamie's Chef in 2007, along with the chance to run his own pub, The Cock Inn.
Now 37, Craze hosts cooking shows like Junior Bake Off, and occasionally joins Oliver on his YouTube culinary channel, Food Tube. He lives in London with his 27-year-old girlfriend Laura and his three children Leah, 14, Molly, 11, and 18-month-old Billy.
He was in town recently to promote his latest hosting gig, the third season of culinary competition The Amazing Food Challenge: Fun in the Philippines, which sees 12 international contestants from countries like France, Canada and Singapore take on cooking challenges across the Philippines.
It premieres on Dec 22 at 9pm on the Asian Food Channel (StarHub TV Ch 435).
Craze was a hoot at a cooking masterclass at cooking studio CulinaryOn at One Raffles Place.
He showed off his cheeky side, tossing salads with vigour and shaking his hips.
M caught up with the Rude Boy and found out what he thinks of Filipino and Singapore food.
How did you come to host the show?
I was sitting around watching telly at my mum's house - I think it was Britain's Got Talent - when I got a call from my agent inviting me to do the show for AFC (Asian Food Channel). I'd never hosted a cooking show in Asia before, so I jumped at the chance.
What do you think is the quintessential Filipino dish?
Adobo (a meat dish with vinegar, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves) is the famous one. It's made differently in different regions, just like jerk chicken tastes different in various parts of Jamaica.
We heard you also tried durian in the Philippines...
Yeah, the first time I had it was in Penang - it was in a fermented durian curry with prawns. It sounds bad, but I love it. I thought it was amazing.
On this trip, I sat outside and ate durians on the street with (co-host) Chef Fernando (Aracama), which was great.
I wasn't really crazy about balut (developing duck embryo boiled and eaten with its shell) though. I'm not keen on sucking on a young duckling.
What about Singapore food?
I've tried black pepper crab, chilli crab and chicken rice - those were really good. I'm always stuffing my face with something or other.
It must be amazing to be able to work with Jamie Oliver...
Yes, I've known Jamie quite a few years now. He's more mature these days; he's in a better place, and can relax a bit now because he's more established.
He's done pretty much everything you can do in the industry, and you almost want to say, "Stop, you've done enough!" His wife actually ordered him to stay home more and stop working on weekends, so he's been spending more time with his family.
I look at Jamie and his dad as father figures, because I hadn't really any of my own. My dad left the family when I was 15. Both Jamie and his dad taught me so much.
Will we see you hosting more TV shows in Asia?
I hope so! I'm waiting to see what happens with this show. I would really, really love to come back to Asia as I love the food and the people. In five years, I plan to move to Australia, so I'm keen to do more work in Asia and the region.