Flying Pans: Two Chefs, One World

by Jessica Dukes
Greg Bertolini
June 2011


Chef Bernard Guillas
The Marine Room – La Jolla, CA

Chef Ron Oliver
The Marine Room – La Jolla, CA

Food Photographer Gregory Bertolini


Sesame Peppered Ruby Red Ahi Tuna, Fennel Mango Salad, Avocado Fritter, and Hibiscus Essence
Chefs Bernard Guillas and Ron Oliver of The Marine Room – La Jolla, CA

Phuket Style Clam Hot Pot, Coconut Milk, and Red Curry
Chefs Bernard Guillas and Ron Oliver of The Marine Room – La Jolla, CA

Phuket Style Clam Hot Pot, Coconut Milk, and Red Curry from the cookbook Flying Pans

Two journal-keeping and journey-seasoned chefs penned, kitchen-tested, food-styled, and bound a voyage for the senses in Flying Pans: Two Chefs, One World—a collection of recipes and glimpses of life from their travels to over 40 ports of call. Executive Chef Bernard Guillas of La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club and The Marine Room in La Jolla, California, and his Chef de Cuisine of 12 years, Ron Oliver, maintained their busy work schedules during the book’s passage from bright idea to recent winner of two 2011 IACP Cookbook Awards (People's Choice Award and Best Chefs and Restaurant Cookbook)—all with the help of trusted friend and food photographer, Gregory Bertolini. The final product is an anthology of their favorite food moments and corresponding recipes from around the world, accompanied by a centerfold-worthy photograph of each dish. Through recipes and vivid impressions of culinary experiences in locales as diverse as Iceland, Vietnam, the Republic of Georgia, Bolivia, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania, Guillas and Oliver bring together far corners of the world, along with the kindred food spirits that inhabit and eat in them.


Jessica Dukes: What inspired you to write this book?
Bernard Guillas, Co-author of Flying Pans: Two Chefs, One World: Ron Oliver has been working with me for about 12 years. I was just coming back from Singapore; I was teaching over there. It was about 11pm at night, and Ron came into the office. He said, "Bernard, you’ve been traveling like crazy. Where all have you traveled?" And I had a calendar in my office, and we starting putting tags everywhere I had traveled, and it was about 50 countries. I said, "What about you?" He started putting tags in his calendar, and he had about 30 countries. We said, "Hey man, we should write a cookbook together," not knowing what it would take to write it.

JD: What did it end up taking to write it?
BG: Well to start, I run three restaurants, a private club, and a hotel. And Ron works and has two beautiful daughters. We’re both pretty busy. We decided to use a ghost writer, so we met with a friend of ours, gave our friend a page to pen a chapter, and he sat down with us and wrote the piece. When Ron and I sat together and read it, he said to me, "Hey man, you don’t talk like that! Well, here’s the deal; we’re gonna write the whole book." So we wrote the whole book. I kept a journal as a kid—we both did. I traveled a lot with my family; Ron did, too. So we put our journals together, and we wrote up the list, and developed a master list of our travels.

JD: How do you see your book being used?
BG: We have a lot of culinary students who approach the book—the new generation of students. They like to see what is beyond a recipe, which is culture. Having all the stories, they are able to travel with us, and it makes them want to learn about the culture and cuisine of that region.

JD: Do you have a favorite section in the book?
BG: I love all the recipes of course, but my favorite part of the book is the true identity of the two authors, who walk out there in the world. It is not only to be stuck in the same routine, doing the same thing, reading the same thing, viewing the same thing on television: it’s beyond that. I love the stories. I love the travel. And the book reads like a travelogue.

JD: What did you learn in creating this book?
BG: You have to be patient and really flexible with your recipes. This book is done not just for professionals, but for everyone who loves to cook at home. When we developed a recipe, we did the kitchen testing. After that, we did all the recipes in front of us; then we gave them to a culinary school, and they tested all the recipes. We got the best information from our friends. Our friends would be calling us [and saying] "Hey Bernard, how do we get lemon myrtle?" Oops! I realized that will be a little hard to get.

JD: How much were you involved in the photography?
BG: We did all the photography and food styling with Greg [Bertolini]. The thing that we learned, first of all, it is a very big commitment when you have a full-time job. Each shoot was 12 hours—and you are able to get only five pictures! It is unbelievably time consuming.

JD: What do you read for culinary inspiration?
BG: I have to tell you that I love to read all the old cookbooks—really old, like 150-year-old cookbooks, or even more than that, and the reason I like those is because it shows you that where we are today … they already had the technique. They didn’t have the technology, but they had the technique. Food is society. We connect with food; we connect with the ingredients. Twenty people from 20 different countries can sit down together but even if they don’t communicate or speak all the same language, they will connect with the food and connect with the anecdotes of the culture and of the food.

JD: Do you have any advice for a chef who’s thinking about writing a cookbook?
BG: Anybody who has a restaurant should. You have to have a plan. You have to put that cookbook into your marketing program; it’s gotta be in that budget. First of all, you will get a lot back from it, and the exposure is just amazing—but you have to find a really cool angle for it. If you are doing a cookbook that is going to be only for trade, it limits you a little bit. People say, "Well, this is a beautiful book but I cannot cook from it," and it becomes a coffee table book. Another thing that we decided was very important: we wanted just one picture per recipe, so you can see the recipe, you can see the picture, and it’s very enticing in that way. So it is part coffee table book, and part cookbook.

And of course, love what you do, as well. You share the love and that is the bottom line. If there would be more love and less war, we would all be very happy.

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