ERWAN HEUSSAFF, 28. This French-Filipino cooking guru and F&B honcho who runs seven eateries in Manila first shot to fame as a food blogger dishing healthy recipes and video tutorials on his blog. These days, he can be seen on the TLC Channel on Food Fix with Erwan Heussaff, which are bite-sized cooking video vignettes aired between shows.
HIS HOME IS: “I live by myself in a three-room condo I bought in the CBD area of Manila. It’s a good location ’cos my girlfriend [Filipino actress Anne Curtis] lives five minutes away by car and my sister lives 10 minutes away.”
HIS RIDE IS: A chauffeured car. “I also have a bicycle in my car. When I’m stuck in traffic, I take my bicycle and my driver can continue driving. Regardless of their salary level, most people have a driver in Manila. I pay $650 monthly for my driver and it has made my life six times more efficient!”
WHAT’S IN HIS WALLET: In his Mont Blanc wallet, a Christmas gift from his businessman dad, Erwan keeps membership cards and credit cards. He shares, “In Manila, cash is king but I use my credit cards on travels ’cos I’m a sucker for collecting points and rewards!” He also has $2 and five pesos (S$0.15) in cash. “In Manila I carry about $300 on me, which is four days’ worth of cash,” he says.
8 DAYS: What was the first thing you bought in Singapore after you touched down?
ERWAN HEUSSAFF: I went to the Adidas store and got a pair of black Stan Smith sneakers and a cool jacket for about $300.
What’s your grocery bill like?
I usually spend about $200 on groceries which last me for two or three days. I buy a lot of imported ingredients like Australian baby spinach or French mushrooms that cost $15 for 300g. And I only use them for one dish. In the end, my home-cooked meals cost more than what I’d spend if I ate outside. But it’s totally worth it!
How do you save money on grocery shopping?
I don’t buy bottled sauces ’cos they have marked up prices. I stock basic ingredients in my pantry so I can make my own sauces like Japanese sesame sauce for up to 20 batches anytime I want.
What would you cook for your girlfriend if you have a budget of $10?
I love offals. They’re super cheap ’cos hardly anyone uses them. I’d buy chicken livers and beef cheeks and blend them with cheap Filipino rum to make a nice pâté. In France we make a lot of nice pâté from ‘discarded’ ingredients. My girlfriend will eat it if she doesn’t know what’s inside. Shhh!
What’s the fanciest meal you’ve had in your life?
I don’t go for French fine-dining much, but you have to treat yourself at least once in your life. For my 21st birthday in Paris, my dad took me out to dinner and ordered a €2,700 ($4,300) bottle of wine. The sommelier opened the bottle, smelled it, and said, “I don’t usually ask clients this, but do you mind if I taste a bit of this? It’s such a rare bottle.” It was really good wine. Tip: When it comes to the Michelin-starred restaurants, go for those with one or two stars or those guys who didn’t quite make the list. They usually have food that’s just as good — it’s only their service that needs some polishing.
What’s one thing that people will have to pay you to eat?
I eat absolutely anything. I’ve tried bugs, goat testicles, cats and bears. But I wouldn’t eat monkey brains. They cut off the monkey’s head while it’s alive. It’s cruel. I might eat an old, dying monkey if you pay me $5 million! I also unknowingly ate dog meat in Shanghai. When I was walking home the street dogs started following me. That was when my dining companions told me I’d eaten dog meat. Dogs know it when you’ve eaten one of their kind. I was like, “You son of a b****! I thought it was deer!”