Getting lost, exploring and learning as I go
Whenever I meet someone for the first time, they ask me this very simple question: Where are you from? I never knew what to answer. Why? Well, it all started with a brief 2-year stay in the French Jura at the Swiss border, where it was supposedly freezing cold. And then…
Childhood African Period
Rwanda / Africa (8 years) in the village Butare, living in altitude in the evergreen land of a thousand hills, close to the forest… A true paradise for the baby-child I was. The beauty of the wildlife in the Akagera park, the lake Kivu, Ruhengeri, the Viruga Volcanoes… Bujumbura, the lake Tanganyika. Running, getting lost in the forest and spending most of my time observing animals. Cycling to school. It was fun to hunt minerals and to learn how to grow your own food. A childhood without TV. Fruit memories: pink guava, avocado and banana.
France (2 years) in Angoulême, first cultural shock, I felt « lost in translation » in my own country. Eco-activist, minerals hunter, apprentice school-journalist and long distance swimmer. Fruit memories: hazelnut, peach and raspberry.
Benin / Africa (2 years) in Porto Novo, feeling lost at first then fast adaptation. In Cotonou, friends, sea and easy life. Nonchalance, insouciance and « feel good » times. Starting to play and to hack video games, learning english in the process. Fruit memories: orange skin is green in the tropics, banane and mango.
Dark-Blue, the French Period
France (2 years) in Angoulême, second cultural shock again feeling « lost in translation » in my own country. Hacking video games, swimming and getting bored at school. Fruit memories: wild blackberry, peach and grape.
Paris, me Voilà ! (8 year) Losing my dad, my everything… Bye bye the dream of being a student. Resilience has a bitter taste. Dark times, thankfully I got saved by a small group of very good persons. Brothers and sisters in life. Friends, partying and working hard. Pairing well food and wine. Coaching the university water-polo team. Learning programming by hacking video games and being well paid to develop. Quitting jobs to get free-time for travelling to French Polynesia, Fiji… Welcome the internet! Short stay in New York to feel the wave coming. It was the right time to become freelance. Evolving from web development and database architecture to digital project management and finally web games production. Freelancing was my key to traveling… Santa Monica, Moscow… Side note: social alcoholism is surprisingly well accepted in Paris. Fruit memories: Red and white wine.
La Rochelle (2..3 years) the sea, the light, the islands… Cycling to move around. Designing, producing and publishing indie games (web, board and cards). Freelancing to keep exploring Japan, South Korea, Canada. In love with the island life, Belle-île en mer… Another lesson learned, I am a freelancer, not an entrepreneur. Game design and development got invited at the university and me with it. I became a teacher, who dreamed to be a student. Fruit memories: red wine, apple « reinette clochard » and wild blackberry.
Dark-Gray, the Holland Period
Starting in Weesp close to Amsterdam. Learning by experience that I don’t exactly like humid, cold and dark winters. Game development for a living. Cycling to work. Teaching at the Utrecht School of Arts. Back to running, 1/2 marathons and marathons all-over Europe… Master of Science, specialization in Project Management in La Rochelle. It is never too late to do things right. Regular escapes in France to teach in La Rochelle or in Angoulême at the Master of Video Games. Fruit memories: Belle de Boskoop Apple, Gieser Wildeman and Comice Pears.
Escape in Singapore (6 months), feeling really lost at first. Adaptation by morning runs in the forest. Learning how to teach with the best students ever. I liked the combination of teaching and coaching. I discovered by a conspiration of circumstances that I am lactose intolerant. I became vegan overnight and decided to learn plant-based cuisine especially for active people. Running 1/2 marathons wherever possible S’pore, Kuala Lumpur and Kuching Malaysia, Honk-Kong. Fruit memories: Durian, Mango, Banana, Papaya.
Back in Ypenburg near Delft (7 years), freelancing on web projects, teaching in game development and writing. Diving into plant-based cuisine for active people… Blogging, authoring 10 cookbooks including « Endurance Secrets » and « Green Protein ». Trail-Running in the dunes. Multi-stage trail races across the Swiss Jura, Norway & along the coast of Corsica. Cycling through the Netherlands. Trail trips in Sweden, Iten (Kenya), San Francisco & the Marin County, Madeira, Tenerife… Workshop in Bogota. I ended-up opening a raw vegan cooking studio in the beautiful city of Haarlem. Again learning from launching a project from scratch. Yet I badly needed sunlight! Fruit memories: Belle de Boskoop Apple, Gieser Wildeman and Comice Pears.
Escape in L.A. and Santa Monica (5 months) Learning again that timing is key! Raw Vegan was blossoming in California at the time. Enjoying raw vegan cooking, the farmers markets, multiplicity of juice bars and vegan cafés. Trail-running on the trails of the Santa Monica mountains, personal cheffing and cycling my way between Beverly Hills and Venice Beach. Good moments. Feeling a positive energy. Meeting fun people. Los Angeles is the right place to start a new chapter. Healing from sun and sea vitamins. Plant Strong inspired. Inception of Pure Energy. Fruit memories: kumquat, pistachio and meyer lemon.
the SUN Infused Period
Summertime in Croatia. Easy, Simple Life. Great People. Sea. Forest. Morning Runs. Fruit memories: carob, grape, fig and mulberry.
La Palma, Canary Islands (Spain) Looking for a place to call home. Losing everything in the Atlantic. Detachment and minimalism learned the hard way by constraints. Trail running accident. Realizing how fragile and vulnerable I am. How ephemeral life can be. After the surgery, I started a painfully slow process of recovery. Resilience in action, slowly. Post trauma, each espresso tastes like feeling alive! Each sunset was unique. Each day felt like a new life. I had no other expectation than enjoying it as it comes. Authoring my main cooking book with my brother Alexis. Talented people are inspiring. Fruit memories: banana, avocado, guava, manga, macadamia; grape, fig, almond.
Summertime in Croatia, Simple life with good people. Starting to feel my shoulder moving again while swimming in crystal clear waters. Run, Figs and Kale chips.
Escape in Glyfada Athens (6 months) Launching the first Raw Vegan restaurant in Greece. Pure Energy applied. Lesson learned, being an Exec Chef is a tough job but it was a necessary experience for me back then. Second lesson, it’s hard to be fully in control if you don’t speak and read the language. Fruit memories: pistachio, olive, lemon and orange.
Hua Hin (4 months), first work adventure in Thailand. Launching the first Raw Vegan Culinary Academy in Asia. First impression, Thailand is a land of extreme contrasts. It was a really challenging time to coordinate the construction of the classrooms and a rough one-man show to source all the necessary equipment and the ingredients without any external support. Some aspects of the projects were not exactly square. Another key lesson learned, I don’t like to deal with dishonest people. Work ethic is not negotiable, so I moved out. Leaving right after the opening of the culinary academy. Fruit memories: honey mango, jackfruit, banana, durian.
Back to France then Croatia. My nomadic life with nothing else than 3 bags, no safe haven or place to call home was not always as glamorous as travelling may sound.
Escape to St Barth in the French Caribbean (3 months). Good people having projects makes life more interesting. I like to help passionated people realizing their projects. Launching a Raw Vegan Café. Pure Energy Applied. Sunset runs. Morning swim in the sea. Resilience mode on. Fruit memories: lime and Ti’Punch ^^
Guest Raw Punk Chef on a cruise in the Caribbean. Started a Juice/Smoothie Bar on board. For my first time in the Keys, who would have guessed that I would fell in love? Well not me. Just as I was ready to give up, I met my soul mate, my partner in crime, my love… my future wife Heather. Now we are two to chase sunrises and sunsets. Fruit memories: lime and Mojito ^^
La Vida Bonita
Back in Tazacorte, La Palma in the Canary Islands (2 years)… Learning Spanish. Simple, easy life. Finally taking the time to settle in. It became important for my nomadic soul to finally find a place to call home. Sun. Sea. Volcanoes. Island spirit. Morning vertical runs. Café solo. Swim in the sea. Exploring the island. Enjoying each sunset. Fruit memories: banana, avocado, guava, manga, macadamia, grape, fig, almond.
Back to Hua Hin, Thailand no mud no Lotus… Inception of the Blue Lotus Project. Team spirit. Coaching good people, teaching creative cooking. Green Thai Cuisine and Pure Energy. Fruit memories: honey mango, jackfruit & Thai banana.
What Now and Where?
Currently living between Tazacorte, my basecamp on the island of La Palma and the Blue Lotus project in Hua Hin, Thailand. Focusing on what I like, learning through experimenting and coaching. I thrive on simplifying, dealing with the unknown and solving problems. I don’t like complicated things, yet I am fine with complexity in nature and life.
Hopefully, it is just the beginning…
How I acclimatize?
As a morning person, I tend to start my day as early as the sun rises. I like to move outside. I enjoy the kindness of morning people. I choose to go to the same coffee place or same market spot… I use these small rituals or daily habits to quickly feel at home wherever I am. The sun light is my usual fix for jet-lag. So I try to spend as much time outside as possible, especially upon arrival.
I slow down, taking the time to observe, listen and get a feel of the local habits. I prefer to pursue what I am curious about and not follow any predefined plan. That way, I get to meet like-minded people, especially while looking for a place or asking for information. I don’t mind the discomfort of feeling lost, it forces me to observe more, learn and adapt to something new and different. I try to learn the language, if it’s Latin/Roman alphabet. Being visual, I have really hard time to start learning anything that I cannot comprehend visually.