Bobby Chinn

Travel is pretty much my philosophy towards life. I like to live on the edge, and sometimes you see more that way…”

“I am an ethnic mutt and it did not take me that long to figure it out on my first day of school. I am half Egyptian, half Chinese born in New Zealand, educated mostly in England and San Francisco. I have lived my life like an algebra equation. You find out the answer through the source of illumination, finding out what you do not like versus doing what you think you will like. I tried planning it all out, but it never really worked out that well when ever I did, so I just stopped planning and started to feel my way through it all.”

“In my life, I have been through many schools on 3 continents and had many jobs. My first job, I was a shoe shine boy at the age of 12 in the financial district in San Francisco. I worked themail room when Charles Schwabb was called ‘Chuck’, flew a kite on Fisherman’s Wharf for $20 a day, and sold t-shirts on the Wharf. I was an elevator operatorin the Fairmont Hotel, until I refused to send the owner of the hotel up a couple of stories. Numerous jobs as part time work in the restaurant industry.

I graduated from Richmond College in London with a BA in Finance and Economics, and worked in many positions in the securities industries, to realise that I really did not care for it at all, much to the displeasure of my parents who paid a fortune for my public school boy education. I left, pursuing an interest in anything outside of wearing a suit and a tie. I sold seafood to the mob and was reintroduced to the restaurant industry. I studied improvisational comedy at The Groundling and ended up doing a little bit of stand up in L.A. and San Francisco.To support myself I waited tables and eventually found my passion in the kitchen. There I worked and trained under some great chefs in San Francisco and France and decided that I wanted to be a chef.

I sustained a very serious injury working as a saucier and was crippled for one year where I was bed-ridden and supplemented my lack of education with cookery shows and cookbooks. I was diagnosed as ‘permanently disabled’, and could no longer work as a chef.

I ended up moving to Vietnam to learn Vietnamese food with the intention of returning back home to open my own restaurant. 10 years on, I am still in Vietnam having the time of my life. When I am not cooking, running a business, I am travelling, getting inspiration from new ingredients, techniques, from the vendors that are willing to teach me. I also like to enrol in cooking schools where ever I go. BaliThailand,CairoFrance, you name it, I am not afraid to fail anymore! In my free time, I play in a band travel, read listen to music.”


Travel philosophy

Travel is pretty much my philosophy towards life. I like to live on the edge, and sometimes you see more that way. No one gets out of here alive, and you are not going to take anything with you when you die, except the experiences that you had. I spend most of my money on services, travel and dining. I like to stay in swank hotels, but eat street food. I like to visit markets, museums as it is an express lane into a culture. I like to eat street food – eating cheap food next to the locals because there is an added sense of acceptance as well as better sense of the people and the culture. I am also more generous in poorer countries, as I fee it is good karma building.”

Favorite Places

“If it is a no-brainer: with my family. My mother has a place on the north coast of Egypt, southern Mediterranean. You can see the milky-way at night, and migrating birds from Europe in winter. It’s off-the-beaten-track and it is nice place to getaway from the rest of the world.

I love San Francisco. I hold a lot of memories there and when you leave a place for a long time, there is a nostalgia that comes with age. Best restaurants on the face of the planet.

I love London when the weather is good. Museums, theatre and music, plus it is nice to visit a country where they speak English

BaliUbudKoh Sumia, Thailand, New York city, I can live anywhere, and love it. I presently love Vietnam.”


Sound advice

With the philosophy that paranoia is a heightened sense of awareness, the following:

  • Never ask to get seated as close to the black box as possible, it is not funny and they notify security.
  • Have an extra couple of scanned copies of your passport with your luggage.
  • Keep the big notes in the left pocket and smaller notes in the right (depending if you are left or right-handed of course).
  • When you haggle, always smile and act a little mental– they might feel sorry for you and give you a better deal.
  • If people that you do not want to deal with come to talk to you, are trying to sell you something or hassle you, pretend to be deaf – they generally leave you alone very quickly.
  • Never say you are an American, if you look like one, dress like one and are one, say you are from Canada,  If they ask you where, tell them a very small town 60 miles north of British Columbia, then make up a name.
  • When travelling through the Middle East, learn the phrase ‘Allah uh Akbar’ means ‘God is Great’. If you hear someone scream it… duck!
  • When travelling through Asia, always offer your passport with two hands and bow your head down as a sign of courtesy. Just do it, and observe, it is fun to watch and gives you an opportunity to get a sense of a culture quickly.
  • Carry a handbag (this includes men). Most terrorists do not look gay so you generally get processed at security checks quicker. It is also much quicker for you to put all your metal objects in a bag quicker then trying to remove them from the stupid silly plastic baskets they give you.