Heimat // Bendjamin Udomkaewkanjana
Posted In: All good things come in jars, Bendjamin Udomkaewkanjana, food creations, hand-crafted Hazelnut Chocolate Spread, healthy approach, Heimat, Heimat Nature’s Table.
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Here is the second interview of a series of 10 informal chats with creative minds based in Thailand [here is the link to the first one]. A collection of interviews with artists, designers, architects, chefs, fashion artists, theater actors, etc. This time is the turn of one of our friends, Bendjamin Udomkaewkanjana, who has recently launched a line of organic products called Heimat. You have to try his products simply delicious, below all the information to make a order. Enjoy!
01 LS: Could you tell us an object to describe yourself?
It would be a glass jar. Glass jars have versatile uses and are transparent. These are qualities important to me in order to start a producing business and building a brand. All good things come in jars, you know? I am now bringing good things to the world, and they happen to come in jars as well.
02 LS: do you think of yourself as a chef, a food designer, an entrepreneur or what?
Starting a company on your own, there is just everything that passes by you and ultimately you are the decision maker…creating recipes, designing menus, hosting conceptual themed dinner series, finding the right ingredients and packaging, building a strong network and crunching numbers make me all of what you asked above. My passion and dedication to starting a company and building my own brand with the excitement that comes when you take risks plus the love for really great quality food and a lot of hard work make me a brand-owner and a very happy man in addition to being a chef, a food designer and an entrepreneur. [black and white picture of Bendjamin working on a customer’s order]
03 LS: how and when have you decided to start your own company Heimat?
Looking back at my corporate jobs, including working for start up firms, I remember really wanting to own a business one day. Today I am launching Heimat. Some people dreamt of being a singer, a fireman, or a doctor when they were little and I guess later in life things change and that’s where I wanted to be an entrepreneur and knew that opportunity comes and cannot be forced. But, I also believe that it is of great advantage to be ready, even before opportunity knocks.
04 LS: What has inspired you to direct your career in such field?
The holidays I spent at my grandma’s home in Germany. She would make everything in the kitchen with me: jams, cakes, dumplings, soups and even sauerkraut. We picked most ingredients from her garden! All the preparation and eating together, gave me a sense of Heimat. Heimat stands for love of a place we call home. The meaning of Heimat derives from the German concept of feeling connected and at home in a certain place offering a social aspect such as family, friends, and food to strengthen this feeling of comfort and support. My mom always let me create in the kitchen at home; she recently reminded me that I developed a chocolate cake from scratch when I was 5. I hardly remember that. Traveling and interacting with different people has also been incredibly inspiring for me. It helped me understand the need for high quality ingredients to create wholesome foods and to give something really wonderful to the community we live in. [Chico, Montana and Sedona, Arizona picture]
05 LS: Could you describe briefly how everything has started and why in Thailand?
I moved from Europe to Thailand about 3 years ago. I was still working for a corporation and thought about options and opportunity in Thailand. Being a foodie and seeing the incredible food options in Thailand, I felt like I set myself on the right path and went to culinary school. I guess you are a bit dreamy in the beginning but when it gets real you find yourself in the middle of all this amazing energy and suddenly meet like-minded people and build bridges of what seemed impossible in my life as an employee. I am still building things, but it has been a great journey so far and I love to really start small and from scratch as I am growing with the brand.
06 LS: What is your great challenge?
There are at times language barriers and there have been cultural differences that I had to learn about, but if you have a vision and a goal, I believe you can always adjust. Life means learning, and overcoming challenges is part of it. Another way to put it is to identify problems as opportunities in disguise. [Challenge picture from flickr under CreativeCommons]
07 LS. Is there anybody among Thai chefs, entrepreneurs, designers whom you find particularly inspiring?
I have great respect for Chef “Uncle John”, a Thai chef who took a risk and opened his own restaurant in Suan Plu Soi 8. Great flavors and top ingredients and all done by himself. My second pick is the artist and also one of my best friends Pan Pan Narkprasert, whose positive energy and high spirit always makes me happy. He has true talent and is not shy of showing the world what he can do, his unique and fierce spirit helped me overcome my own inhibitions and inspired me to take greater risks.
08 LS: Could you explain the process behind your creative work?
I pretty much know what I can do and I have a very clear vision when it comes to my brand and what I see in it. However I do rely on other creative people to translate this vision perfectly into artwork, so when I start explaining it can be a very wordy process. In terms of recipe creations and the creative process behind that, I trust my instincts and understanding for food. I merge my personal palate and sense for food-textures with the best products available to me and also keep a health-focus in mind, then I get going and turn the kitchen into a laboratory and I can be there for hours making a dozen variations of the one product I am trying to get just right. [image of my dream-kitchen]
Bendjamin Udomkaewkanjana lives in Bangkok and spent a great amount of time in creating his brand Heimat with the help and support of great friends and amazing creative minds. His food creations with a healthy approach are hand-crafted to your order and for now can be purchased online via facebook.com/HeimatNaturesTable or email enquiries to email@example.com and you can visit the blog at heimatnaturestable.tumblr.com look out for updates, pages have all just recently been created.