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Confessions of a food addict
Saturday 9 July 2011, 08:14AM
  Jan Hollister is addicted to food and drink, but not in the conventional sense. The Food and Beverage Executive Assistant Manager works at SALA Phuket Resort and Spa, in the north of the island, and said sharing food and drink with people was his complete passion. “Sometimes it takes over, but I could think of worse addictions,” he said with a laugh. Mr Hollister was born in Los Angeles, US, and has worked in the food and beverage industry in many locations around the world. “The exploration for new techniques, the adventure of finding new ingredients, and sharing food you have discovered with friends and others has always excited me. While historical locations are interesting, cuisine is very reflective of the culture that is alive today.” He said the exchange of ideas between himself and his team members allows for constant development and encouragement in the kitchen. One thing he likes is the variety of guests he serves, and their stories. “At any given time at the resort your can meet people from Europe, Africa, Mexico, and Asia that all have completely different backgrounds and experiences. It really keeps things interesting,” he said. Situated on Mai Khao Beach, near the Phuket International Airport, SALA Phuket Resort and Spa is part of a group of resorts in the area who formed an alliance to market Northern Phuket and Mai Khao Beach. One of their events is Grapes and Grazing, a food and wine event, starting July 13. But like any job, being a chef has its challenges and Mr Hollister must be disciplined, self aware, flexible and humble enough to make the necessary personal changes to ensure goals are achieved. Another big challenge is delays in projects, which Mr Hollister said could be frustrating. And what about those who want to become a good chef? Mr Hollister suggested finding a kitchen in a business that you like, and one where they have a good team. “Keep your mouth shut, eyes open, volunteer to do everything, work hard, work fast, ask questions and take notes. Latch onto others you respect and follow their lead,” he said. “One thing I have heard over and over the last year, and it’s taken a little while to stick – have a plan. While you may not always know where you want to be and what exactly you want to be doing in the future, take an active role in your own development. Constantly be in search of ways to develop yourself, not only professionally but also with life experience.”
Flying high in the UAE
Friday 1 July 2011, 07:38AM
  Canadian Ian Mitchell says his inspiration for becoming a helicopter pilot came from his father, who was in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was also one of the directors of the Canadian International Airshow in Toronto. “I grew up around aviation and have been around aeroplanes and helicopters for as long as I can remember,” Mr Mitchell said. “I was one of those little boys who built plastic model aeroplanes and had them hanging from his bedroom ceiling,” He is now employed as a helicopter pilot, flying to offshore oil rigs on the Persian Gulf from the company’s main base in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Mr Mitchell started taking flying lessons at the age of 16 while in high school in Canada. He obtained his private pilot’s licence and his commercial pilot’s licence, and at age 19, got his first job working as an aeroplane pilot in northern Canada. Later that same year, Mr Mitchell studied at an aviation college in Canada and began flying helicopters when he was 21. In 1997, the opportunity arose to fly Bell412s, 15-seater, twin-engine helicopters, to offshore oil platforms in the Persian Gulf, out of Doha, Qatar. Mr Mitchell said he jumped at the opportunity and has never looked back. He has been in his current job since 1999, and has his home in Phuket. Helicopter pilots often work a-six-week-on, six-week-off schedule. “Travelling back and forth to the Caribbean from the Middle East became gruelling. Tired of crossing so many time zones, I made a right turn at the airport in New Delhi one night, instead of a left. A couple aeroplane rides later, I found myself in Phuket. I haven’t been back to the Caribbean since. After several years of living on the island, I decided to build a home here with my wife,” he said. Mr Mitchell said the most interesting part of flying helicopters, especially the larger types like the AW139, is the mix of technology and the jobs with which the crew are tasked. “Every day and every flight is different,” he said. “Without a doubt the most difficult part of the job for a pilot is the extensive time spent away from family and friends. “Flying aeroplanes and especially larger helicopters, has given me the opportunity to live and work anywhere in the world. So I’m very fortunate,” he said.