Black Sheep Restaurants is a team of 1000 strong hospitality professionals from more than 40 different countries, with different backgrounds and views of life, but there is one thing that we all have in common: we love food. We asked our team about the greatest lengths they have gone to in the name of good eating.
Palash Mitra, Culinary Director of South Asian Cuisines at Black Sheep Restaurants
When I was in Jaipur, India, in 2001, one of my friends sent me her mum’s special fruit-milk cake from Kerala — my absolute favourite. I ate some before going to sleep, and the next morning I woke up to the bed shaking viciously. Turns out there was a mild earthquake. Somehow, I got out of bed and ran for the door. I could see my friends right ahead, and as I reached the door I realised that the cake was still in the house, so I quickly ran back inside to grab it. My friends were horrified that I would not make it out in time, but I did cake in tow. Thankfully, the house was okay too.
Vidur Yadav, Operations Manager, International Restaurants at Black Sheep Restaurants
I went to a British boarding school in India where students were not allowed to bring in outside food to maintain fairness. To get around this, my friends and I would spend weeks planning our break out to get local street snacks for us and our classmates. We called it ‘Operation Breaking Bounds’ and it was very well planned: one guy planned the escape route and one student’s job was to make contact with the shopkeeper to have our pickup ready upon arrival. Two kids stood guard at night looking out for the watchman while two others jumped the walls to bring everything back. We all risked suspension, but for us, the food was worth it!
Si Kang, Restaurant Manager at Fukuro
When I was in the Korean military we had drills where we would gear up and march to the mountains for one-week-long exercises. To get through the drills, we would sneak in food, chocolate bars and energy drink packets that were not army-approved. One night my platoon sergeant and I had a mad lust for instant noodles. We took turns manning our guns and cooked ramen in our canteen using hand sanitizers and matches to create the fire. This was really dumb of us because there cannot be any light during these exercises and if we had been caught we would have been sent to military prison. Good fun thinking about it now, though. No regrets.
Richard Corrigan, Restaurant Manager at BELON
The farthest I have gone to satisfy a craving was on a trip to Ireland with my dad, where one night we had a sudden appetite for sashimi. Although Ireland is abundant in fish, it is not exactly known for its sashimi. So we went out and bought a sushi kit with Japanese knives and the next morning we rented a boat and went fishing for mackerel. As soon as they were caught we washed and sliced them up right on the boat and ate them with soy sauce, mirin and wasabi. To this day it is still the best sashimi I have ever had.
Axel Gonzalez, Group Bartender at Black Sheep Restaurants
There is a pilgrimage that myself and many Argentinian epicures have made to try the best empanadas in the country which are located in Tucuman. It takes around 28 hours by bus and ends with another 5km hike to get there, but once you pop one in your mouth the long journey is instantly forgotten.
Marc Hofmann, Operations Manager at Black Sheep Restaurants
I was not sure if I have done crazy things for food so I asked my long-suffering girlfriend… She quickly assured me that I have – from travelling to Vietnam for a specific banh mi, to making her wait for a particular kebab at 4am, to tricking her into watching (another) episode of Chef’s Table. However, one of the most exceptional meals I have had required travelling 600km to Switzerland. I was interviewing the late, great Chef Benoit Violier at l’Hotel de Ville Crissier and got to have lunch on the pass during the service. It was unforgettable!
James Johnson, Restaurant Manager at Ho Lee Fook
I remember being kind of a brat on a trip to Italy. I really wanted to try a certain restaurant but I had not made a booking (rookie move I know) but despite being in Italy where there are clearly endless amazing options, I was so disappointed that I refused to eat anything that evening. Much to the dismay of my travel buddies, I insisted that I was not going to have a meal that was not going to live up to the hype I had created in my head… It made sense at the time I promise.
Matt Richardson, Operations Manager and Grace Moore, Training and Development at Black Sheep Restaurants
Holidays for us are always scheduled around what we are eating. On a recent trip to Hanoi we found ourselves wandering around in the rain for over an hour looking for a particular 72-year old egg coffee cafe (Giang Cafe) and ended up using all of our phone data looking for this hidden alleyway cafe. It was completely worth it though – condensed milk and egg yolks poured over fresh coffee, it tastes like meringue and is basically a full meal in itself.
Brian Ferguson, Restaurant Manager at New Punjab Club
I was in Rome with my girlfriend, and although there is so much delicious food there, I really wanted true Neapolitan pizza. We hopped on a train to Naples, inhaled three pizzas and two espressos in two hours, then back to Rome we went.