Meeting Bobby Chinn, Brunch and The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

A couple of days ago, I trooped off to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf expecting brunch. Instead, I get a stand-up comic talking at warp speed while guzzling copious amounts of coffee. Oh wait. That’s Bobby Chinn. *facepalm* Minutes before the program started, the half-Chinese, half-Egyptian, mostly American chef, restaurateur and talk show host was quietly tapping away on his Macbook Air in a quiet corner. So, it was quite a surprise when he was called to the makeshift stage and he quickly switched to a very animated, witty, hyperactive, potty-mouthed coffeeholic.

Bobby Chinn loves his Coffee

After getting on stage, he started regaling us with anecdotes about brunch. About how originally, brunch was for the privileged because, after all, they were the only ones who had the resources to laze about in the mornings. He even did this routine poking fun at the French who apparently, refused to acknowledge the existence of brunch, instead coining a meal called The Grand Breakfast to describe something that combines breakfast AND lunch! It was funnier when he was delivering it, trust me. While all this was happening, our own brunch was carted in and good lord, it looked so good I had a hard time deciding what to do—mind my brunch or listen to Bobby. Great time to put my multi-tasking skills to use.

Salmon Scramble

We were served Salmon Scramble, a dish that had perfectly prepared smoked salmon omelet heaped on herbed focaccia. Each bite was delightful, as the smoked salmon retained a nice texture that was firm, yet different from cooked salmon. It was something new for me because I’ve never tried smoked salmon in a cooked dish before. One the side was a helping of chicken sausages which, unlike other chicken sausages that tended to be on the bland, mushy side, was robust and had a firm, crackly skin. It reminded me of specialty sausages, like bratwurst and schueblig from my favorite delis. All part of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s new brunch offerings. Of course, if you’d like something light like pastry or something, you can still get that.

Blueberry Muffin & Biscotti

As I was surreptitiously digging in—I didn’t want Bobby to catch me not paying attention—he continuously regaled us with anecdote after anecdote about food and his life. How he used to work the stock market floor (he holds a degree in finance), how he got himself fired by swearing at his boss on a daily basis, how he started in the food industry as a waiter, how he broke his back working in the kitchen (‘Restaurant kitchens are full of assholes. With sharp knives.’) and eventually bounced back while apprenticing in France. Normal stuff, you’d think, but when Bobby relates the stories, you can’t help but keep laughing, especially as he does all these accents and caricatures. Stand-up comic material, I tell you.

Bobby Chinn really loves his Coffee.

It was probably the coffee. I think he had what, 4 or 5 large cups? The man loves his coffee. Each time he finished a cup, he’d ask for a fresh one. Half-soy, half-skim, he told us. Something about the combination has a certain thing going on. Of course, I made a mental note to try it next time. When a famous chef tells me to try something, I listen.

Chef, restaurateur & TV host Bobby Chinn

Capping off our brunch was dessert. On the plate, it looked like a normal Oreo cheesecake. After a bite though, I found myself having a hard time putting my finger on what was different. It has Camembert cheese, we were told, which made for the slightly different flavor. I am more used to cheesecake made with normal Philly cream cheese so the Camembert surprised me. Adding a bit of playfulness texture-wise were slivers of gelatin folded into the cheese.

Camembert Oreo Cheese Tart

After the end of his lengthy but entertaining talk, (“She handed me a piece of paper saying, ‘Wrap up in 5-7 minutes.’ I don’t know, my Chinese eyes read that as 57 minutes,”) they opened the floor for questions. Yes, he tried Filipino food, like kare-kare, champorado (‘like chocolate congee!’), balut, and his favorite, adobong pusit (‘that squid in black sauce’). He answered more questions—his favorite TV chefs include Jamie Oliver, Tony Bourdain and of course, sexy Nigella Lawson—but eventually, brunch had to come to an end. We got our photos taken (Wheee! I have a photo with Bobby Chinn!), said our goodbyes and had to leave. Oh well. At least we’ll always have World Café Asia.

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6 Responses to Meeting Bobby Chinn, Brunch and The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

  1. amvn says:

    Wow holy macaroni! You met Bobby Chinn?! That’s awesome 😀 I love to watch World Cafe Asia. I imagine it was very entertaining to hear him ramble hehe. :)

  2. toni says:

    Bobby Chinn is so amusing. His talk must’ve been awesome. Lucky you to have met him!

    And that salmon scramble… that’s a must-try!!!

  3. agatha says:

    Whoa! Bobby Chinn? in person? The bad-ass chef/ world traveller (alongside Anthony Bourdain) who makes my heart skip a beat whenever I see him on discovery T&L with his unconventional, yet appealling scruffy gorgeousness?!? WOW. Same goes for Tony B. I think they’re brothers in their past lives. Was delighted to see an episode of No Reservations were Bobby made a cameo- I think it was somewhere in either Bangkok or Singapore when he accompanied Tony in devouring a humongous dish of ribs (or was it crabs?-can’t remember; was busy debating over who among the two looked sexier licking their fingers as they gorged bare-handed on their dish;- see? I’m THAT hooked, haha) in the middle of the country’s famous hawker stalls.

    Anyhow, wish I’d been there. You’re really lucky 😉 Kudos to kitchencow!

  4. kaoko says:

    Gosh, I was soooo ecstatic! I got up so early, just so I’d be there. And it was so worth it. <3

    So so sooooo lucky. <3 <3 <3

    I want to see that too! I'll try googling for it, I'm sure it's somewhere on the internet. <3

  5. Inggit! You are so lucky! I just watched him cook champurado yesterday on cable TV and I’ve recently become a foodie (unconventional because I don’t know how to even cook a decent omelette). By the way, I included your site on my blogroll ( the layout’s so nice and your posts are insightful.

  6. lol i’d be the first person to admit that i really didn’t like the first season of WORLD CAFE ASIA, but eventually BOBBY CHIN won me over with his cracks about his ass getting groped in wet markets and that shrimp paste was shrimp poop marketed under a different name. now i watch his show religiously. good on ya for meeting him, mate~

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