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From Bayou to Barrio

We've sold our souls to "Wok 'n Roll"

The concept of soul food brings up a myriad of imagery, that of a Louisiana home kitchen, the streets of Detroit or the banks of the Mississippi. Now…to me, one’s true soul is reflected in the food that is eaten. Clearly…”you are what you eat”. In ancient cultures that retained their soul, the food eaten is in direct relationship with the society of the nation as a whole… its climate and location, type of economy or agriculture and mix and body type of its people. Importantly, food connects to the spiritual dimensions of a country’s people. In fact, the nature of a population’s inner being is expressed through its cuisine. In these cultures, learning how to eat was in direct proportions to learning how to live. The word “diet” stems from the Greek “diata”. “Way of life”.

Modernity and the emergence of the “global village” have changed food forever. Everyone anywhere can now explore tastes, textures, and alternative cuisines from around the globe. The “foodies” (god…how I hate that word) are now even blogging about culinary nothingness. Cultures have seen the cross-pollination of Thai, Szechwan, Vegetarian, Indian, Southwestern, African, new age organic and a slue of fusion and alternative cuisines. Given the current changes in global economics and demographics, a growing interest in world peace, nutrition, health and spirituality, there is an increasingly sophisticated consumer audience geared towards sustainable “intelligent eating”. Through this all, I still love the street food of congested and filthy Bangkok. Now….there….lies a culture’s soul.

To me, and importantly, the creation, preparation and consumption of food should be a complete “experience” whether food is served in a themed restaurant, spa, resort hotel, roadside shack, or on the floor of a Vietnamese, Thai or Philippine home. The experience should represent a mix of real food, prepared with care (operative word), and served in a manner conducive to a theme or purpose, complemented with an atmospheric elements (perhaps) that might include music, mischief and maybe even some chaos thrown in. (II can talk about good interior design, lighting and graphics and service techniques….but why?). Blending these elements can and should flow naturally. Be both relaxing and fun, regardless of where the food is consumed. In recent years, I would gladly trade ANY restaurant to sit on a floor in a rural province and shut up and…LEARN. No ego, omniscience or pomposity. I’ve been in that strange land. Try sitting on that floor….and absorb. That is soul. Trust me.


Until Next Time,


Robert Colin Bryant - Founder, TBG Innovative Ltd.

TBG Innovative specializes in the planning & development of international 5 star hotels, blending real estate, branding, master planning, and construction to create “great destinations”.  To learn more about TBG Innovative visit us at