International Premiere: Seoul International Food Film Festival, Nov 17 & 18, 2017 ***WINNER JURY PRIZE***
World Premiere: Devour! Film Festival Oct 26, 2017
Toronto Premiere: Reel Asian Film Festival Nov 11, 2017
A visual journey following one of the world's most expensive foods. From its creation in the remote island caves of the Philippines, to its transformation into the legendary Cantonese dish of "Bird's Nest Soup" at a 3 Michelin star restaurant, this film examines this strange delicacy, and the different lives that are touched by it.
Bird’s Nest Soup was once the supreme delicacy for the Emperors and Empresses of China. A rare exotic dish believed to rejuvenate, beautify and prolong life, it is now being eaten by today’s rich, nouveau-rich and the rising middle class of Hong Kong and China. Often referred to as the “Caviar of the East” a small bowl of Bird’s Nest Soup can cost upward of $100 in some of China’s top restaurants. Gram-for-gram it's quite literally worth its weight in gold.
Photos are from a research and development trip. Please do not use without my permission.
The nests are from special cave swiftlets that build the nests entirely from their saliva. At a store in Hong Kong the birds nests are cleaned, dried and sold for consumption.
Pound for pound the nests are worth more than silver. A single bowl of soup may cost over $100USD at some Hong Kong restaurants.
My Grandfather owned a bird's nest store in the 1970's. The orignal store no longer exists. It was torn down and turned into a highrise. The owner of this store used to work for my grandfather.
Travelling to one of the remote islands by traditional Thai longtail boat. The islands are not widely known, even amongst the Thai people. Special permission was given to me to visit the island and it was revealed later that I was the first foreigner to ever visit this particular bird's nest island.
The two youngest peer into the water below.
Asaree (16), shows off the fish we are about to eat for dinner.
The team's boat captain, Dem, surveys the island before nightfall.
Makeshift bamboo scaffolding is used to allow climbers to reach high up into the caves to get the nests. Often climbing barefoot without any special harnesses harvesters fall to their death every year.
Looking high up into one of the old caves. The white dots are where the nests used to be.
A cave painting believed to be made by ancient Vikings.
Dem admires his collection of fighting fish. The fish are one of the few sources of entertainment on a remote island without running water or electricity.
Otto, the leader of the group shows off his guns, used to guard the island from thieves looking to steal their nests or take over the island.
See my blog post (here) for some additional info.