Kaiseki Sakura Toronto
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What's This?

Alfonso Jose Tupaz writes the blog Experiments in Food (+ Travel). This is no surprise. If you chat with him for a few minutes you will quickly learn about his world travels which commenced when he was just a little boy. If you enjoy a blog that makes you drool, definitely check out his post on Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies. We liked what we saw, so the team decided to ask Alfonso some questions. Hungry for more?

FriendsEat: Where did you grow up?

Alfonso Jose Tupaz: Not a simple question for a global nomad! Grew up in the US, Canada, Philippines, and Nigeria. Spent some time in the UK. And I love to travel.

FE: What inspired you to start a food blog?

AJT: I like to eat. A lot. And I’m particularly interested in desserts. A few years back, I started baking, in an attempt to recreate a lot of my favourite desserts and pastries. I did not immediately embark on food blogging and publishing recipes until much later. I actually started blogging about business and entrepreneurship, and over time I started posting food related content on that blog. So, I decided to give it its own place on the internet. I’ve always thought of it as more of a creative outlet. It gives me a chance to work on my food photography, food presentation, and writing skills.

FE: Speaking of photography, do you have any tips for the budding food blogger?

AJT: I highly recommend investing in a nice DSLR. Entry level is okay. You want to have a camera that processes images beautifully. One that takes quick shots, because people are patiently waiting to eat while you take photos of their food. Compactness might appeal to you, especially when you’re just starting out and feel a bit timid bringing a gigantic DSLR to restaurants. I use a “tiny” Olympus E-P1 (Micro 4/3s), which doesn’t freak people out as much. But I’m starting to not really care if people gawk at my camera while I take pictures of food. I do find, however, that a smaller camera feels more accessible. So, you’ll see me reach for my Oly more often than a proper DSLR, even in my own kitchen. Finally, think placement and lighting. I don’t edit my photos. I’m against it. Should be natural, how it was captured. So lighting, positioning, and plating of dishes play a very important role. As with anything, try, experiment, and practice.

FE: What can someone expect to find in your blog?

AJT: I enjoy coming up with unique (or modified) recipes. So many of the recipes on the site are different takes on desserts and food recipes. There’s not one particular genre of food that I concentrate on. If I’m interested in something and feel inspired, I’ll go for it (within the limits of my culinary aptitude). I occasionally do write-ups on events, particularly during the summer. I also write about my travels, which have a lot to do with food – I believe the two are inseparable. To a lesser extent, I’ll do restaurant reviews.

FE: What is a typical day in your life like?

AJT: It’s pretty boring. Despite my adoration for all things food, I try to maintain a healthy balance. So, I’ll start the day with oatmeal… yay! If I’m feeling wild that day, I’ll spice it up with cinnamon. Like any foodie, I’ll already start planning what I’m going to eat for lunch and dinner. At times, I’ll create some monster sandwich using various ingredients from the fridge. If I’m feeling inspired and creative, I’ll randomly concoct something, and it’ll become a blog post – like my Garlic Panko Crusted Tuna (topped with pancetta), it was totally random.

FE: What was your childhood kitchen like?

AJT: Moving around a lot, you can imagine the kitchen environment to be a bit unstable. However, my mother was always able to provide delectable Asian cuisine, particularly Filipino and Chinese cuisines. Now, ingredients might have varied city to city, like living in Lagos, Nigeria. But the variety was a great experience. Thereafter, I attended boarding school. So my childhood kitchen was very much a buffet style dining room – where I could choose and select whatever my heart contented. Cue weight gain story.

FE: What is your kitchen like now?

AJT: Messy. Well, no. That’s not entirely true. It’s organized chaos. I do not usually keep a lot of ingredients lying around, unless it’s basic baking materials. I go grocery shopping once a week, usually Saturdays, so my fridge contains items that I’ll use within the week. In the near future, I plan to grow my spice collection. I also plan to start an oil collection – olive oil, macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, etc.

FE: What type of people read your blog?

AJT: I’m embarrassed to say that I am not particularly sure. Those that comment and interact with me on Twitter and Facebook tend to be foodies. The otherwise larger portion of views perhaps come from the entire Asian extended family (which is always large).

FE: What comes to mind when you hear the word bacon?

AJT: Deliciousness. Crunchiness. Fattiness. Happiness. Realization. Guilt. Cholesterol. Clogged arteries. Death.

FE: What is your favorite restaurant and why?

AJT: I think this is a relative question. And right now, my favourite restaurant is Kaiseki Sakura (in Toronto). The food is amazing. The service is impeccable. And the company is always great. This is the place I would usually come to celebrate a special occasion, like a birthday or an anniversary. We’d forget cost for that one day and pamper ourselves to the delectable treats that Chef Daisuke Izutsu would prepare for our omakase. I always suggest Kaiseki Sakura to family and friends, even to try their ‘tapas’ style menu. Cuisine is perfection. And if you delight yourself with an omakase menu, you’ll get to experience first-hand the creativeness of the dishes.

FE: What is your favorite ingredient and why?

AJT: Matcha. I LOVE tea. And the best tea, in my opinion, is Matcha tea from Uji, Kyoto, Japan. I’ll add matcha to any dessert if I can. I’ll modify dessert recipes just to include matcha. I’d even add matcha to savoury dishes. Oh, well there’s an idea!

FE: Have you tried Green Tea Kit Kats?

AJT: Um, no, BUT I WANT TO. Going to search for one tomorrow. And will report back. Give me 24hrs.

FE: What is your opinion of the current state of Foodtertainment?

AJT: If you’re referring to the FoodNetwork (my favourite channel, by the way), I think the quality of shows is improving. Meaning, I really like Top Chef, Triple Ds (Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives), The Best Thing I Ever Ate, and ANYTHING to do with truck food.

FE: What do you think is the future of food blogging in the next 5 years?

AJT: There will probably be more Asian female food bloggers. Kidding! With the relative ease of snapping pictures and posting to blogs or food discovery sites (like Foodspotting), the only component left is your voice. So I think food blogging will expand. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but you’ll need to distinguish yourself from other bloggers (if that is something that is important to you). Otherwise, just offer something that is unique. Be you, and have fun!

FE: Would you like to give a shout out to the best joint that no one has heard about?

AJT: Awesome! Why not. Props to Nigiri-Ya! Small quaint place, very few tables, mainly for takeout. If you’re looking for top quality Aburi sushi in Toronto (Leaside area), check the place out! Just don’t take all my orders…

FE: What do you think is the most important issue facing foodies today?

AJT: Weight gain. Seriously. Foodies like to eat. And especially eat out at restaurants. It’s extremely difficult to practice self-control and limit portion size when you just want to eat EVERYTHING on a menu. So, watch it foodies. Exercise. Life is about balance.

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Blanca Valbuena
I am one of the co-founders of FriendsEAT. Obviously, I love to eat. Other passions include A Song of Ice and Fire, Shakespeare, Dostoyevski, and Aldous Huxley.
Blanca Valbuena