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Sunday Lifestyle

Erwan Heussaff on loving Anne Curtis, living abroad and staying fit not fat

10 THINGS - Bianca Gonzalez - The Philippine Star

To have 440,000-plus Twitter and 270,000-plus Instagram followers despite not being a TV personality is both impressive and rare. Go ahead and dismiss it as the product of being “the boyfriend of Anne Curtis” or “the brother of Solenn Heussaff,” but there is so much more to this multi-hyphenate than what many people label him to be. Here are 10 things you should know about Erwan Heussaff.http://www.philstar.com:8080/node/1254840/edit?destination=admin/dashboard/articles/scheduled%3Fq%3Dviews/ajax%26type%3DAll%26title%3D%26field_section_tid%3D10%26tid%3D%26field_publication_date_value%5Bvalue%5D%5Bdate%5D%3D2013-11-10

1 It was a job promotion he got while living in Siberia that pushed him to decide to finally come home and work here in the Philippines.

“I worked for a company called Sodexo and I ran their operation for Far Eastern Siberia, which entailed coffee shops, restaurants, management camps, making close to 2,500 meals a day,” says the International Business graduate with a specialization in hospitality. “My contract came to term and they told me they wanted to promote me and send me to either Nigeria or the Falkland Islands. The job offer was amazing, problem is was you’re there three months then you get three weeks off. I had to just stay in the hotel if I wasn’t working. I mentally couldn’t take that. It pushed me to come home.”

He came home to Manila when he was 23, and now that he’s 26, he has taken on a new career path as restaurateur and business owner. What was he waiting for? “I had to feel that I gained — well, respect is a big word, but respect in the food industry here locally. I built the persona of The Fat Kid Inside so that when people thought of Erwan they automatically thought of food. I was waiting for that to happen. I’ve always wanted to position myself not as a chef or bartender, but someone that could speak both the language of the kitchen and the bar.” He now co-owns Niner Ichi Nana, Hungry Hound, Hatch22, and is soon to open Pink Panda.

2Erwan cooked his very first dish — by himself — when he was only eight years old: salpicao.

“We used to vacation a lot in Montreal and I remember I was listening to my older sister Vanessa and her friends talk about salpicao, how they missed it and how they wanted to eat it. And her friends started talking about the recipe. I was fat back then already, I was a kid who loved to eat. So I rushed home, looked at the ref and saw that all the ingredients she had spoken of were there. Okay, might as well try, just by memory. It turned out really good,” he recalls. “Once I realized that cooking was knowing about the taste and remembering the feeling, I realized it wasn’t that hard. If you love to eat then you should love to cook.”

3On deciding to lose weight and get healthy after being fat for over a decade: “You come to a point where you don’t recognize yourself anymore.”

“All throughout age eight to 18 I yo-yoed up and down, from fat to chubby. Nineteen, 20, 21, I was all-out obese. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and not recognizing who I was. Of course I could see my face, I just felt like whoa, what have you become. You look at yourself without your shirt on and you start getting timid and shy, you’re embarrassed, you hit rock bottom and it hits your self-esteem. That’s when I decided I needed to make a change.” He was working in Greece at that time and it was his fit, gym-going workmates that pushed him to exercise.

“I put myself through all the diets. Atkins, South Beach, all those cabbage soup diets and juice diets. I realized the only things they all had in common was low carbs and low starch. Just by making those switches, everything became okay. In the process of losing weight I would still eat a massive rib-eye steak and fried eggs, no problem. I just wouldn’t eat the mashed potatoes,” he explains. “When people ask me ‘What can’t I eat?’ that list is way too long. So this is what I tell them: you can eat vegetables and protein, but that’s it.

“If you’re about to eat something and the ingredients in that thing do not fall within the realm of vegetables and protein, you should avoid eating it.”

4Erwan in numbers:

12: Number of hours he trains a week for triathlon, seven days a week. 

7: Number of pop-ups he has done for Manila Pop Up, with partners Deejae Pa’este and Mike Concepcion.

7: Number of contributing writers on his website, thefatkidinside.com. Erwan uploads all content and does all the photo and video editing as well.

245: Number in pounds of his heaviest recorded weight. He was 5’10” and 20 years old. (His weight now ranges from 150 to 160.)

4: Number of languages he can speak. “English, French, at one point Spanish, in Russia I took intensive classes. I learn a language through necessity.”

5Having worked at various hotels around the world, he has had his share of dealing with the oddest situations such as possible sexual assault to gold-seeking guests.

“In China, I was room service supervisor. We got calls at two or three in the morning, people requesting burgers, that kind of thing. I remember one night, one of my waiters came back in tears, his shirt ripped. Basically what happened, there were two big gay guys and they literally assaulted him. I had to talk to them, and I was scared. But I said, ‘We can do this two ways, either we call the Chinese police now, and when that happens I can’t promise where you will end up, or you just leave right now.’ So they quietly left the hotel,” he recalls.

“In Greece, my title was conflict manager. It was a resort with 2,000 capacity, and I would sit in an office just with lines of guests wanting problems resolved. I had to deal with the stupidest things sometimes. There was once a customer who goes, ‘I paid x amount for this room, why is my bed not made in gold!’ It was pretty ridiculous,” he says with a laugh.

He’s worked as a dishwasher, waiter and supervisor, too. “I always chose to work at hotels because I find hotels are micro companies. When you are there you do so much in all these different departments,” Erwan explains. 

6If somebody asks to take a picture with him, he always asks them, “Do you know my name?”

“Here, if people think you are famous or some sort of a celebrity, automatically you are an artista. But most of my work doesn’t depend on that. When someone asks me for a picture, I go, ‘Do you know my name?’ And some people say, ‘No, but you’re Anne’s boyfriend, right?’ When it’s like that, I just don’t take the picture. But when someone comes up to me and says, ‘I read your blog,’ or ‘Thank you so much for helping me lose weight,’ that makes me the happiest person alive. I’m not the most smiley person. I mean, I’d love to do a cooking show but locally, directors always ask me to make pa-cute, and that’s not me. It will look fake. There’s this status that people want to put you in and I try much as possible to make people understand that I like doing things the way I do things.”

7Erwan defines his outlook on life this way: “Make the easiest things seem the most difficult, and the most difficult things seem the easiest.”

Despite juggling several roles from restaurateur to triathlete to blogger day in, day out, you will also spot him doing all his own research and behind the bar mixing drinks for customers. “I am very OC. Not cleanliness OC, but more of, if something does not have a purpose, it shouldn’t be there,” he admits. “Everything that looks tough to you, you have to visualize it as the easiest thing you will do today. Then everything that seems easy, you put it at the end of the day and concentrate a lot on it. Because usually things you perceive as easy you don’t pay attention to as much. So that’s how I approach everything.”

He is both a multi-tasker and a micro-manager. “I am always on the go and I like being efficient, so when I am stuck in traffic you can imagine how crazy I go,” he says. He conveniently brings all his work around with him on his Note 3. “Its the only phone that almost replaces my laptop. I can do most of my work wherever. I like the fact that you can do two things at the same time,” he explains. “And I actually have two.”

8He has lived in seven different countries.

1. Manila, Philippines: He was born and raised in Manila, and moved to study abroad when he was 17.

2. Paris, France: “Paris for me was always a given,” says the son of French father Louis Heussaff and Filipina mother Cynthia Adea. “I really wanted to be there for college.”

3. Shanghai, China (for six months): “We had the opportunity to do an internship and I remember that was when China was just awarded the Olympics. I was in a dormitory with bunk beds and 15 Chinese guys, tiny locker, communal showers, we were literally in the ghetto. It was terrifying at first but when I got to know them they became like family. I’ve never seen happier people. It was just such a great experience.”

4. Hanoi, Vietnam (for six months): “I wanted something a bit more offbeat and I’ve always wanted to try cities where I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know anything about Hanoi. It was amazing, the food was crazy. It was at Sofitel Metropole and I was assistant to the F&B director.”

5. Rhodes, Greece (for six months): “Because it was a more fun destination. I was in the island of Rhodes which is basically like a party island. We worked really hard but we also had a lot of fun.”

6. Bangkok, Thailand (for five months): “They sent me for training. Bangkok was awesome.”

7. Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia (for two years): “It’s freezing. Four months a year it’s about 20 Celsius, the next eight months are 20-below Celsius. Where we were is an ancient city, where the prisons were. You get there and you are given a pamphlet on being careful with brown bears. Tile buildings, communal gas lines and water lines. It was such an amazing challenge. That was a point where I really wanted to do an MBA, I wanted to be the most interesting candidate.”

He did, however, put his MBA plans on hold. “I had a lot of friends coming out of Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, all the schools I wanted to go to for my MBA. They were all unemployed, so what’s the point I would rather focus on work experience first.”

9

Random Erwan trivia:

What you do when you have time to relax? “Watching series. I love Top Chef, Big Bang Theory, Breaking Bad.”

You have the most of what item in your closet? “Cardigans.”

Favorite restaurant in the world? “There is this one restaurant Anne and I went to on the west coast of France called Cap Ferret, it’s the oyster capital. It was this oyster bar where the owner grabs the oysters by crates from the sea, puts them in his own cultivating pond, scrubs it right in front of you and opens it in front of you. We ate maybe 30 oysters each with just the best bottle of rosé, and crusty French bread with salted butter. It was just fantastic.”

Favorite dish in the world? “Boiled potato with butter and salt. There’s nothing better.”

Cheat day favorite? “Corned beef.” Only Sunday is his cheat day.

Regular reads? “Flipboard has all my feeds from CNN, Buzzfeed, BBC, Rappler. I check The Daily, Figaro, Saveur, Food Network, and Huffington Post food section.”

Favorite follows on social media? “I prefer Instagram now and I usually follow hashtags, not one person. #craftcocktails, #foodporn, #organic, #weightloss, then I just go through everything.”

10

#thefatkidinside: what started out as just a hashtag is now his personal advocacy.

(As of press time, the hashtag has 13,000 posts.)

“My friends and I would say things like, ‘This donut makes the fat kid inside of me so happy.’ I am sure a lot of people have said that, but at that time there wasn’t much on the Internet about the fat kid inside. At first it was really just to gauge the market, make myself a personality of food. I didn’t realize how much of an impact it would make on certain people’s lives. I would get long e-mails, close to a thousand words, people telling me how they lost weight, how they can play with their kids more, how they can do things they couldn’t do when they were fat, even people that are bullied. I didn’t realize that something that came so naturally to me, telling people what or what not to eat, or how to live a healthy life, would emotionally affect people. I realized I have an extra responsibility of keeping that going. And now I’m using the blog to try to push Filipino food as well.”

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His blog’s millions of views and half a million following on social media will come as no surprise when you get to know what Erwan is really all about. That passion as profession bit may be a cliché but he is proof of why it is a cliché. He sticks to what he knows and what he loves, pushes it to the limit, so, albeit reluctantly (and come on, with that face, and that hair?), he is a star. 

* * *

E-mail me at [email protected] or message me on Twitter @iamsuperbianca.

 

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