Food Quest: Kaua'i, Hawaii

Chefs Run Wild

Chefs Clayton Klyne, Chad Klyne, and Lyndon Wiebe pose with three generations of cooks in their 100 year old food stall in Bangkok's old city, Sao Ching Cha.

Gung-ho, adventurous -- and occasionally half-naked -- Chefs Run Wild is Canada’s latest contribution to culinary TV. Three telegenetic guys, who also happen to be trained chefs, toured Asia for six months, filming themselves cooking as they traveled. The result is a hot new series on the Canadian channel Travel & Escape.

But who are these wild, slightly-crazed chefs? Clayton and Chad Klyne are twins. Lyndon Wiebe is their longtime friend. All three are originally from Winnipeg. And, significantly, all three are travel-obsessed: “We have basically spent the last nine years working in different countries all over the world,” the chefs explain. “We would just work for a year or so in one country, then take six or seven months off and travel.”

None of the three chefs had experience with cameras or filmmaking before their trip. They managed to learn along the way.

“The idea for the show began as all brilliant ideas do -- with a drink,” jokes Chad Klyne. “In this case, it happened to be over a pint in a local New Zealand pub. We were all working in Auckland at the time, but wanted to see Asia and learn as much as we could about the cuisines of the different countries. We decided to film our exploits and document the recipes that we would learn.”

The fact that none of the would-be filmmakers had any experience with video or cameras did not deter them in the least. A lack of equipment wasn’t an issue either. The budget for the six month excursion was $30.00 a day, per person. So, needless to say, pricey gear wasn’t an option.

Packing up one camera and one microphone, they set off. Technique was something they developed along the way, as they took turns filming each other working with local cooks and learning to prepare new dishes. On such a minuscule budget, accommodations were quite primitive as well. Even a bed was a luxury in some places.

Also daunting, was that the three had no contacts in the countries they were visiting. “We researched each place before we arrived so we were familiar with traditional foods. The really difficult part was finding the restaurant or street food stall that cooked the dish the best. Through broken English and sign language, we would ask the cooks to show us the dish and let us cook it. Because customers were always wanting to eat, there was no time to practice. Each cooking segment in our show is our first go at the dish.”

In spite of the difficulties and hardships, the trio diligently posted edited videos to YouTube every few weeks. Viewers began to notice and respond positively. “The more we traveled and filmed, the more determined we became to turn out a professional job,” Chad says emphatically.

Clayton meets another new fan!

Chad prepares for a shoot.

Lyndon samples a broth he will recreate.

The group began their trek in Bali, then Indonesia and Jakarta. The Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia followed. In Vietnam, the chefs first leaned that there might be interest in a TV series based on their videos. “We knew people were getting really excited. So, we just kept working 12 and 15-hour days putting the videos together.”

Their long hours and extra effort paid off. After a final stop in China, the three travelers returned to Canada where Travel & Escape committed to run all the episodes they had shot. These days, the Klyne brothers and Wiebe are busy with promotion for their series and a huge group of fans who have lots of questions.

What was your favorite dish during the entire trip? “Definitely Vietnamese Banh Xeo, which is a crispy crepe stuffed with pork, prawns and mung beans. Wrapped in fresh herbs and lettuce, the crepe is then dipped in a slightly sweet and sour sauce.”

What was your least favorite? “Chinese fermented tofu, also called stinky tofu, and has a smell similar to rotten meat or garbage. Tastes like it too!”

Favorite city? “We spent four weeks in Thailand and three of those weeks were in Bangkok, which has a vibe like no other city. The amount of food stalls per capita is the highest in the world! Bangkok is a food lovers haven and the Thai islands are just paradise.”

What’s up next? “We aren't sure what the future holds for us but Africa is on the top of our list of places to go!”