What I've Learned

Erwan Heussaff

Entrepreneur and food blogger.
IMAGE Edric Chen
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This was originally published in our July 2013 issue.

It’s annoying. (Laughs) I’m kidding. I’m not particularly a fan of being “famous by association.” So the so-called celebrity status because of my girlfriend, or because of my sister…I could care less.

I think where I really had to just man up was in Russia. I worked in Siberia for two years in this little town with a population of 100,000 people, minus 30 degrees. I arrived first day of work I was 21, and I was in front of 45 people, all older than me, all Russian, all didn’t speak English, and they were supposed to be my staff, basically. And then my translator said, “Okay, this is the new manager.” And everyone started laughing. ‘Cause I was young, and they’d never seen a young expat with that much responsibility.

When I used to be really fat and I decided to lose weight, I was 21. That taught me discipline.

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It was after my high school relationship, like high school sweethearts, whatever. I got really comfortable. After that ended, naturally, I went to Greece to work and when I was there I just realized that it was time to change something.

I respect my dad so much for all the work he’s put in, for the love he shows his family. For him, basically, his children are his life. I think I look up to him for that because he’s so faithful to the family, he’s always been so giving and generous.

He taught me to just be open minded about everything, thus the exposure to traveling. He taught us that things are only gained through hard work. He’s a self-made man. He was a sailor in the French navy and then decided to go muck around in the mud in Borneo for an oil company. He came here with 50,000 pesos and he created the company that’s breathing now.

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I will never feel a hundred percent Filipino. I will never feel a hundred percent French.

We were allowed to do a lot of things that Filipino kids wouldn’t normally be allowed to do. Like make my own mistakes. They allowed me to fuck up, and I fucked up, and became better for it.

I have a day job. I’m a business development manager for a logistics manpower company, and we also do industrial catering. But for my creative side, I’m opening three restaurants this year, for sure. I like restaurants because it puts my creative side of what I do in the kitchen, to a restaurant, which is very business-oriented.

I studied international business. I love creative people but I think if they lack the business end of things, they will fail in everything that they do.

Real men and their food? I think it should be understanding, in terms of knowing where the ingredients are coming from and what the effects are to your body. Once you understand the food it creates a whole new dimension for it. That’s why I think it’s also important for all men, as cheesy as this may sound, to learn how to hunt. The first time you kill something and you eat it, as caveman-ish as it may sound, gives you so much more respect for the ingredients.

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I’ve killed chicken, fish, I’ve killed a pig. Some people turn vegan right away, like Morrissey… idiot.

You see the blood, you see the eyes and you think it has a soul. But you tell yourself, “whatever, this is how it’s supposed to be anyways.” It’s more of being grateful for it. Once you kill a chicken, clean it, pluck it, remove the guts and it’s messy, you feel grateful. I took a life, and now it’s feeding me. It’s very Lion King, you know (laughs). It applies to vegetables, too.

I think the role of men is just to be a rock, be the cornerstone, the anchor that’s always there. I really believe that the most important thing, whether she’s your girlfriend or your mom, is just to be there. Be supportive.

I’ve lived in Shanghai, Hanoi, Rhodes, Paris, Siberia, and Manila. And funny enough, it never felt different. Like I arrive in a different country and I feel like I’m at home. I have that mentality of traveling and everywhere is home. All I need is a computer, and a job, and I’ll be okay.

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I can go a month, two months without calling my parents. I mean they’ll get pissed but, because I’ve travelled so much, I can shut off that part of my life.

Be honest with yourself. If you’re honest with yourself then you’re automatically honest to other people. Have goals. I’m a huge fan of setting goals, I used to smoke two packs a day. I remember when I was 15, I told my mom, “When I’m 23 I’m going to quit,” ‘cause I was a stupid kid. And then when I was 23 my mom said, “Time for you to quit,” and I did overnight, cold turkey. Third, be curious. I think people nowadays are not curious enough. They’re either happy or content at where they’re at and they think, “Oh I can’t do that, because I don’t know how to do it.”

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I’m super young. I’m talking like an old man but I’m super young. I know there’s a lot of shit that’s going to happen still, but I’m just excited for it.

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Kara Ortiga
Kara Ortiga is a writer and the editor in chief of Supreme.
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