In this edition of Celebrity Travel Addicts, we speak with Tiger Andrén, the professional chef from Sweden who is leaving his mark on the world by sampling as much food as he can while touring Southeast Asia on his YouTube channel, aHungry Tiger! We chat with Tiger about what kick-started his passion for travel, why he decided to follow the path he’s on today, his favorite destinations around the world, and much more. Find out why travel is important to him and find out where he’s thinking of heading next!
How did your passion for travel get started?
Around three years ago, I went on my first trip to Asia with a dear friend of mine and that just opened up a whole new world for me, we started with going to Thailand first and explored Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Then we went to Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. There is just so much to see around the world and it would be a shame not explore it.
What does travel mean to you? Why do you feel it’s important?
Travel is something that should be mandatory for everyone to do If they have the opportunity, It gives you the ability to understand other cultures and appreciate its differences. The benefit of this is that it makes you a much more open-minded person and that is definitely something we need more of in this society we live in today (growing nationalism for example).
You run a YouTube channel called aHungryTiger. Can you please tell us about it? How did your channel come about?
Sure, I am a professional chef that went to culinary school in my home country Sweden. I love food, I got really tired of working in a kitchen mostly because of how horrible some of the people can be there, ‘Hells kitchen” is actually not too far from the truth of some kitchens out there. I wanted to do something different, I took a gamble and left everything I had in order to travel the world and make videos – with no experience at all editing, recording, being in front of a camera or even traveling alone. True, I am still struggling making the channel grow, but I have this feeling that It will somehow work out in the end.
You worked as a fine-dining chef at several restaurants before you began traveling the world. As a chef, what do you look for when you try dishes in other countries?
I look for authentic food that is native to the place which I am in or even the city that I am in. I am open-minded but I definitely do have my preferences which can sometimes be a bit frustrating when I have to try food that is local, but just not to my taste.
Have you come across any dishes in your travels that you hope to recreate when you go back to your job as a chef?
Some of the dishes that people create is just phenomenal and super hard to recreate, one of them that comes to mind immediately is ‘Pho’ in Vietnam, anyone who is a chef knows how difficult it can be to create a good broth and no doubts some of the Vietnamese knows exactly how to make it so tremendously rich. Thai food is relatively easy and I love it, so this is definitely something that I will be doing much more when/If I come home but not in a professional setting.
How many days/weeks do you travel in any given year? What types of places do you like to visit?
Right now I am on a never ending trip, haha! But I do not prefer to travel short timeframes, when I go somewhere I do not look for a place to relax (like a beach) I want do delve deep into the place, I want to walk around the streets, I want get the scent of every corner of the place, trying their food, chatting with locals etc. Nature, clean, quiet, small towns and historical places, especially those with rich food culture is my favorite.
What do you want audiences to gain and learn from your work?
That is a deep question, this is something I do not reflect too much about to be honest, I want it to be something that people enjoy to watch. I think they can learn a lot about culture, travel, food. But sometimes I worry about giving the wrong impressions about a place since videography is something that takes a small piece of beauty of one place and ignoring the rest. So in the end I believe it is up to them what they can learn from it, but ultimately it should be something that is enjoyable to watch.
What are the top three destinations you’ve visited?
Tokyo Japan, Chiayi Taiwan, Hoi An Vietnam.
How many countries have you visited so far?
It is hard because it depends on how you count I do not remember as a child but I think it is around 20 around this point.
What are your top 3 favorite cuisines?
Again, so hard! Swedish, Thai and Japanese. (+ French, Italian, Greek haha I can just keep writing)
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What dish do you recommend there?
I am a big fan of cheap, high-quality food with limited ‘dining experience’ which is usually is really fancy restaurants. I do not mind eating on a plastic chair on the street as long as the taste is satisfying. I recommend anyone trying an authentic ramen restaurant in Japan, maybe in Sapporo to try some spicy miso ramen, one of my favorites was ‘Ramen Shingen’.
What is your favorite travel movie?
I do not really watch many movies but I sincerely think everyone has to watch Vietnam War documentary by Ken Burns.
What is your favorite international airport?
Which city had the friendliest people?
Chiang Mai in Thailand or anywhere in Taiwan.
Who is your favorite travel companion?
Since I travel alone I have to say myself! The best companion you will ever have in life is indeed yourself.
What is the best way to kill time while traveling?
Podcasts, reading, meditating, mindlessly thinking while listening to music.
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
I think Vietnam will bring you to some really crazy places. But I was also on Japanese television, that was a big rollercoaster.
What is your best bit of travel advice for someone who wants to, or is about to, embark on a life of travel?
Just go, seriously. Do not make up petty excuses to why you cannot do it. I have seen people that are traveling alone 65+ or families, the world is out there and ready to be seen by everyone.
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
Phone, wallet, good pair of shoes and a big fat smile to let the world know they cannot bring you down.
What is your ultimate dream destination?
I already went there, It was Japan and it was amazing. I would recommend anyone to go there and skip Kyoto (yes there is something controversial for you).
What is your favorite travel quote?
Not really a travel quote but It is from Steve Jobs, I think he has a lot of wisdom to share to other people.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. ”
Where are you headed next?
Undecided, I think I might make my way back to Thailand soon!
Hey everyone, thank you for reading about me.
My name is Tiger (yes it is my real name) I am chef that comes from Sweden and my biggest dream in life is to share foods across the world to people, If you want to follow my dream you can check it out on my Youtube where I publish videos about it.