Written by Staff Writer
Host chef Patricia Zhan explores the sustainability of rare ingredients while seeking to inspire customers with dishes inspired by the culinary tourism of chefs who have a passion for the red earth.
Thousands of years ago, the Australian lifestyle of Indigenous Australians combined the best of desert, rainforest and beaches to create traditional land-based ways of life.
The same dynamic has been the foundation of a world-renowned restaurant chain in Mexico , restaurant owner Li Hong Jis, and places like the Galapagos Islands, Caribbean and Scotland.
Now, New York chef Patricia Zhan , who has had her own eponymous restaurant since 2003, wants to redefine the dining experience by changing the whole food industry , starting with the bug — the edible insect that emerged as a sustainability story in the late ’90s.
Zhan, whose family emigrated from Indonesia to Queens in the ’50s, is known for her broad palate and love of foods that explore the natural world through incredible combinations.
“Long before I knew the word ‘restaurant,’ I was in Colombia, cooking rice and fish, and I thought: why are we cooking these materials? Why are we raising these animals and what is the difference with having a cheeseburger instead of a lamb burger?”
In an upcoming segment of CNN Travel’s New Year’s Eve Special, host Patricia Zhan explores the sustainable meal — and the impact zhou zhu is having on restaurants from New York to Costa Rica, and traces the way it came about.
“The whole reason I started thinking about these critters, I was so passionate and passionate about Japan. And you know these insect things — the roaches, the gourds, those things are just so edible.”
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She learned to cook in Japan, where a small share of houses provided meals for guests. Fishes and vegetables were grown on rooftops and in gardens of coffee or tea or fruits or mushrooms.
“I went to Japan and so many things went back to my mind. Every single thing came back to that — more insects, more plants, the texture, the flavor.”
Zhan is playing to a variety of strengths in her restaurant — in education, in new menu items, in the Chef’s Pantry, and for other supporters, in the restaurant’s sustainability program.
“My goal is to show people that it’s not about how much money you put on your plate, it’s not about what protein you’re eating or what fats you’re eating, it’s about what you’re putting in your body,” she says.
According to Zhan, there are almost 90,000 species of insects in nature. She examines from her kitchen, incorporating a wide range of insects (beet), earthworm, beetles, and giant crickets — a delicacy on her menu.
One of the recent offerings was highly popular. Triangular scorpions are one of the more controversial parts of the species, because they are a bigger head that comes with a smaller head — hence a huge middle body that features a small arrow sticking through it.
In the latest book ‘C. A. Zhan: A Culinary Odyssey Through Discoveries in the Hard-to-Find Foodways of Asia and America,’ Zhan speaks about these edible insects.
“These are very damaged, dangerous creatures but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be eaten.”
Zhan says she has created several concoctions with ingredients found in the sea, like corn ants and jellyfish jellyfish.
Dinner and a show
Zhan shows the CNN viewers how to prepare special recipes and some star ingredients from each region, alongside a behind-the-scenes look at how she prepares dishes for guests like Anderson Cooper, Oprah Winfrey and Rita Wilson.