GIVEN his fondness for seafood, one would think that Canadian-born Gregory Wade grew up on the banks of Nova Scotia, reeling in fresh salmon while broiling lobsters on top of a makeshift barbecue - or some variation of this image.
Not quite. The local vice-president for Research in Motion/BlackBerry thinks his passion for edible marine creatures probably came about because he lived so far away from the sea in the first place.
'I grew up 3,000 kilometres from the closest ocean and was never exposed to fresh lobster until I travelled to the Maritime provinces of Canada,' says the 39-year-old, who is currently based in Singapore.
'Over the years, I've had the tremendous opportunity of travelling around the world and my exposure to different cuisine has fundamentally shaped my taste buds,' says Mr Wade, explaining how his palate has become more adventurous.
He's clearly not opposed to trying new things; and one way in which he adapts quickly to food in a new country is to look for something familiar in the local dishes. 'For example, when in Korea, I would seek out BBQ beef. And in India, I would order chicken curry while experimenting a little more with vegetables and greens.'
He doesn't feel compelled to do the same in Singapore, though. 'I feel completely welcome because of choice as well as the familiarity, that is, the food experiences that remind me of North America and provide me with a sense of place, even on the other side of the earth.'
He's already chalked up a list of favourite restaurants in Singapore that aren't at all close to North American cooking. Topping his list are Valentino's, Song of India, Senso, Min Jiang @ One North, Il Lido and Novus.
And his love for seafood is more than catered for, since he's developed a taste for Singapore-style seafood.
'We have a little tradition at RIM Singapore and that is to initiate visitors to local food,' he says. 'We tend to gravitate towards the East Coast Seafood Centre for Chilli and Black Pepper Crab. These signature dishes are a hit with the team and repeat visitors always come back looking for more. The great thing is that many of such restaurants are showing up in Dempsey and such trendy locales.'
As a frequent traveller, Mr Wade also has his personal favourites overseas. 'I have a running tally saved on my BlackBerry smartphone of restaurants I have enjoyed. I love New York for its excitement and energy and would recommend Gigino & Carmines. In San Francisco, I would recommend the seafood at Scoma's and Aliota's. Sydney is also a food enthusiast's delight with Level 41 (beautiful view) and the Flying Fish (again with wonderful views).'
He's also had his fair share of 'interesting' dining experiences, particularly in Ethiopia and Kenya in Africa.
'My Ethiopian experience took me to a traditional thatched mud home where I enjoyed the national dish of injera and wat (a kind of pancake served with stew). We sat around a fire while the cook prepared our meal.'
'On another occasion, I ate at a restaurant where all they served was boiled chicken - seriously! The servers would drop a boiled chicken on your stainless steel table and cut it up into pieces for the family to enjoy!'
But his most memorable meal was in Kenya, 'dining at a big game reserve under the stars where I was offered up to 14 varieties of game, from ostrich to gazelle to crocodile and zebra.'
He's certainly come a long way, food-wise, from his childhood days, when 'my Mom tried to convince my sister and me that liver and onions was a delectable meal with plenty of protein'.
'The thought of it today turns my stomach. I will also never forget the occasion where my Mom wanted me to try sour cream but passed it off as ice cream. I took a great big bite and avoided sour cream for close to 15 years,' he says.
Now that he can prepare his own meals, he does it from time to time, his specialty being 'Orange Cashew Chicken, which is based on Thai and Jamaican inspirations'.
Yes, he may be a long way from Canada, but when it comes to food, he knows he doesn't have to go far for seafood and some extra dining adventures.
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