“Ask an Aussie” series: Executive Chef Ashley Lucas
Ever wondered what it’s like to live and work in Taiwan as an Australian? This series of mini interviews introduces some of the fabulous people who have done just that!
To kick off our series, we put Shangri-La Tainan’s Executive Chef Ashley Lucas on the spot with a few quick questions. As a culinary expert, a top chef, an Australian and a long-term Tainan resident, we figured his insights were worth sharing. Here’s what he had to say!
1. What do you think of Taiwan’s culinary scene? Personal favourite street snack?
Taiwanese are very passionate about food. I have seen many arguments between people from different regions of Taiwan about who has the best beef noodle soup or stinky tofu!
The culinary scene in Taiwan is growing very well in the 5 years I have been here and from the next generation of chefs I have seen they are experimenting and bringing the scene to the next level, most of all having fun and enjoying their food. Tainan of course is well known for its local snacks and night markets, and I have tried most things - stinky tofu included, which isn't really for me!
I quite enjoy the fresh seafood BBQ snacks that go well with a good cold Taiwan 啤酒 píjiǔ, squid, shrimp and local oyster. The beef soup is also very good in Tainan and for the record my favorite version in Taiwan!
2. As an Australian working in Taiwan, what were your biggest ‘culture shock’ surprises on arrival? (good or bad!)
The scooter riders in Tainan! As they say here, traffic lights are optional, or for decoration only!
The biggest surprise I have found in Taiwan is the hospitality and hotel schools and universities. It is the first time I have experienced such a good system in Asia and the skills that the students receive through their education and internships prepares them well for a career in the industry.
3. We are always asked what ‘Australian food’ Taiwanese should try when visiting Australia. You’re an expert - what’s your top pick?
There are so many yummy things to try in Australia it’s hard to choose one! Of course everyone knows Vegemite, which I like, but not many non-Australians do! For me a must try when downunder is a meat pie from the local bakery, with plenty of tomato sauce or ketchup on the top. Or if you make your way to Adelaide you have to try the pie floater with mushy pea soup!
My other favourite is BBQ, get a big thick Aussie beef steak, lamb chops or your favourite fresh seafood with some salads and cook together with your friends over a couple of cold beers. The other must for me is fish and chips down at the beach, nothing beats fresh fish with a squeeze of lemon and some salt and the smell of the sea air, I wish someone would open a fish and chip shop here in Anping!