Chefs Run Wild!
by Marla Norman, Publisher
Gung-ho, adventurous – and occasionally half-naked – Chefs Run Wild – is one of Canada’s tastiest contributions to culinary TV. Three telegenic guys – cousins Clayton and Chad Klyne along with their longtime friend Lyndon Wiebe – are trained chefs, who toured Asia for six months, filming themselves cooking as they traveled. The result was a hot new series on the Canadian channel Travel & Escape that debuted in 2012. Audiences loved the fearless, zany trio!
All three chefs are originally from Winnipeg. And, not surprisingly, all three are travel-obsessed: “We work for a year or so in one country, then take six or seven months off and travel,” explains Chad Klyne. “The idea for the show began as all brilliant ideas do – with a drink,” he jokes. “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 learned to cook.”
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.
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. Recently, National Geographic People acquired rights to the series and episodes appear in all of Asia and some parts of the Middle East. Nat Geo is also airing the series in Italy, Switzerland and Malta and has contracted with some airlines for inflight entertainment.
These days, the chefs have split up for the time being, and each is in a different country. But, stay tuned…these wandering chefs could turn up in any part of the world!
Lyndon Wiebe is head chef at UrbanSource, one of the top catering companies in Toronto. He also gives cooking lessons on the side.
Chad Klyne is working for Friends International, out of Cambodia – the group works with marginalized children in Phnom Penh and across South East Asia. Chad serves as a Chef Advisor/Trainer for restaurants associated with the TREE Alliance (Training Restaurants for Employment and Entrepreneurship). Within these programs, former street kids are provided with hands-on skills in real life restaurants to prepare them for the work place. Says Chad: “At the moment we have six running restaurants: four in Cambodia (two in Phnom Penh, one in Sihanoukville, one in Siem Reap) with another two in Laos. And, we are now in the middle of opening three more restaurants in 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Bangkok, Thailand and Bagan, Myanmar.
The video below, produced by Lyndon Wiebe and Chad Klyne, explains more about both Friends International and the Tree Alliance.
Clayton Klyne is currently in Lombok, Indonesia relaxing and surfing after filming for the Amazing Food Challenge (Season 3 in the Phillippines) produced for the Asian Food Channel.