When I travel, which is usually for business rather than pleasure, I try plan my trip as efficiently as possible to avoid any delays. Usually a business trip means I want to get to my destination and quickly as possible, and I want to arrive home before I’ve even departed. I’ve forgotten that travelling can also mean enjoying the journey even more than the destination.
I met Jonathan Phang recently while he was promoting his latest television show Gourmet Trains, in which he reminds us sometimes it is better to travel than to arrive. In Gourmet Trains Jonothan shares his passion for gourmet cuisine, transcontinental travel and his new found love for trains. It is an exciting series that will leave you hungry to experience the food, destinations and trains for yourself.
If you’re already familiar with Jonothan’s other shows, Jonathan Phang’s Caribbean Cookbook and Jonathan Phang’s Caribbean Christmas, then you are well aware of his larger than life and that he takes great pleasure immersing himself in every aspect of his travels. In the cities he stops off in, Jonathan explores what’s new on the food scene, meets people who are pioneering in their culinary field and tries the unexpected and cutting edge. On board the trains, Jonathan gets to know the staff and fellow passengers and helps out with the chefs, including Christian Bodiguel and Yannis Martineau, who between them have worked on the trains for over 50 years.
Jonothan has a dry, campy sense of humour both, in person and on-screen, often making fun of himself or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. He told us twice that he didn’t like trains but quickly corrected himself that he now loves them after being part of the Gourmet Trains experience. It’s not hard to like Jonathan, and after previewing Gourmet Trains, I know people will love the man himself and the series too.
Jonathan’s inquisitiveness makes him a perfect tour guide. While he’s excited about travelling he admits that he’s never traveled long distance or overnight on a train before and while these trains are luxurious, they are also challenging. When he said that there wasn’t an internet connection on the Orient-Express I made a mental note either not to take that train- or learn to live travel without broadband.
I’m sure I could learn to live without internet access if I could travel from Venice to London and Bucharest to Istanbul aboard the Orient-Express. I would just have to pack a book. The allure of travelling on this iconic train has been on my To-Do list ever since I was a child when I read Agatha Christie‘s Murder On The Orient Express- and I decided that I would one day read Murder On The Orient Express while travelling on the Orient-Express.
Jonothan’s travels also take it through Kent and Rutland, England on the British Pullman & Northern Belle, from Singapore to Penang and Penang to Bangkok on the Eastern & Oriental Express and finally Budapest to Vienna on the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express. Jonathan Phang’s Gourmet Trains is a visual feast that opens a whole new world of olde world glamour, exotic locations and fine dining experiences.
Short of making the trip yourself, you can catch Jonathan Phang Gourmet Trains on DSTV’s Travel Channel (179) Tuesdays 21:00. It premiere’s in South Africa on 11 February 2014.