Season 2
51 Minutes

E80 | Alan Hughes | How I Became A Rock’n Roll Chef

Alan Hughes is an Argentinian-born chef, restaurateur, rock’n roller and inveterate world traveler. He began his career in some of New York’s finest restaurants – The River Café, Sarabeth’s, Union Square Café – and did a stint as private chef in Gracie Mansion, New York City’s mayoral residence, under mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins.

In Miami, Alan founded One Ninety, a pioneering restaurant in the city’s Design District, and The Embassy. Alan hosted an online cooking series for Yahoo en Espanol titled Cook N’ Rock, contributed to award-winning cookbooks and produces highly entertaining and deeply personal culinary segments for his YouTube channel from every part of the world – all while performing in rock n’ roll clubs everywhere.

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Alan Hughes  00:00

Older brothers started moving out, you know, they had girlfriends and this and that. I missed them so much that I told my mother that I wanted to start cooking. So they would come. I would cook on Fridays, and I was nine years old, my mother would have these books of international foods and I was so curious looking at them. I’m like, let’s try this. And you know, I don’t know they put up with a lot of patients to probably swallow the food I was doing but I managed to bring them actually

Achim Nowak  00:36

Hey, this is Achim Nowak, executive coach and host of the MY FOURTH ACT PODCAST. If life is a five act play, how will you spend your FOURTH ACT? I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected FOURT ACTS, listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you are listening on. Let’s get started. I am just delighted to welcome Alan Hughes to the MY FOURTH ACT PODCAST. Alan is an Argentinian born chef, restaurant tour, rock and roller and inveterate world traveler. He began his career in some of New York’s finest restaurants, the River Cafe Sara bets Union Square Cafe and did a stint as private chefs in Gracie Mansion, your new york city’s mayor all residents in Miami. Allen founded 190, a pioneering restaurant in the city design district and the embassy. Alan hosted an online cooking series file for Yahoo en espanol, titled cook and rock contributed to award winning cookbooks and produces highly entertaining and deeply crystal culinary segments for his YouTube channel from every part of the world. All while he is performing and rock and roll clubs. absolutely everywhere. Hello, Alan. I came how are you? I’m well, I’m so happy we get to record this conversation. In full disclosure, Alan and I have known each other socially for about 15 years in Miami. Wow. Yeah. But I’m gonna pretend that I know nothing about him and allow him to tell us if you think so. Alan, let me ask you first thing. You have this very Anglo name, Alan us, but you are from Argentina. How the heck did that happen to Ellen?

Alan Hughes  02:46

Well, Argentina got a lot of emigration from Italians, from Spaniards from from Europe in general in the 40s with World War. So we I’m happened to be a, you know, descendent from British descent. Even though my generations above me are from Argentina as well. But you know, somewhere along the line just to make it very simple. We are from Great Britain. I am. I consider myself a complete RG complete RG. However, I did go to a very British school in Argentina, sort of like Harry Potter kind of school, in which, you know, now when I look in hindsight, it’s it’s an honor, because, you know, we had teachers coming straight from Wales from Scotland from from all over Great Britain and, and it was very tough. So yeah, that’s, you know, that’s a little bit of the paradox, I guess.

Achim Nowak  03:49

So Alan, because you had a, an early career and a lasting career and very impressive career as a chef. So when you mentioned Harry Potter school and thinking, Did you think about being a chef while you were at the Harry Potter school?

Alan Hughes  04:08

Well, food at home was something that we really treasured a lot. My father and my mother would cook. My father would cook very well, my mother would cook as well. And we are six brothers. So it was eight of us. And Sunday lunches was a ritual, you know, we were all sit down, obviously, you know, sitting down on the table was a very common thing for us. And then because I’m the youngest one, as soon as my older brothers started moving out, you know, they had girlfriends and this and that. I missed them so much that I told my mother that I wanted to start cooking so they would come. I would cook on Fridays. And I was nine years old. My mother would have these books of international foods and I was so cute. Just looking at them, I’m like, let’s try this. And you know, I don’t know they put up with a lot of patience to probably swallow the food I was doing but I managed to bring them actually,

Achim Nowak  05:11

that story makes me chuckle because I’m in my 60s and I still never have the internet. Why the evening to cook anything. So this is the difference between you and me and your wiring, right?

Alan Hughes  05:25

I always tell everybody you know, you don’t have to learn how to cook. You just need to know how to eat.

Achim Nowak  05:32

Yeah. My sense is that I’m here you had this yearning to cook, but you also have some you have learned from some really great chefs, and you had some mentors. And I always wonder that mentorship is true in many professions. But I think even especially in cooking, that probably helps to learn from a Master, can you give us a sense of who you actually personally studied with and what they inspired you?

Alan Hughes  06:02

Well, my first steps were in Argentina, when I was probably 15. My mother managed through a friend, to get me to do a stash for the people that don’t know what a stash is. It’s like an apprenticeship without getting paid to do a stash under at that time, one of Argentina’s premier chef, which now is wildly famous. His name is Francis mailman. And you can see him and I think is the first series of Chef’s Table in Netflix. He has one episode. In fact, one of the nights that he talks about I was there with him was very interesting. You know, I remember that I went in the first day. And just the first day blew my mind. When I came back to my house, I was looking at my mother saying, I’m blown away, I’m blown away. And so and so it was it was for a whole year, did not get paid, I will go my bicycle quite a bit in quite a ride. And that time in Argentina, no buddy would cook. There was no such thing as gastronomy, you would think astronomy is astronomy, no gas. And water nowadays, of course, you know, everybody’s a chef, or whatever you want to go, you know. But yeah, that was very, very powerful. That was one of the big influences I had cooking.

Achim Nowak  07:30

Now you, you sort of have to use by yourself, cut your teeth, by working in some pretty fancy well known places in Manhattan. Especially these days, there’s so much in the media because about cooking. And cooking is such a big thing. And restaurants are a big thing. And that many things are talked about the dark side of those environments. I’ve worked in restaurants and the server on and off for years in my 20s. So I had the experience of being in the front of the house. But before we get to your Miami part where you did your own stuff, if you think about what you learned in New York, take us to two extremes. Like I’d love to hear about moments where you go, wow, this is amazing. This is why I love working in restaurants. But I’m sure you had moments where you went, What the hell am I doing here? So can you give us a snapshot of both extremes? Yeah.

Alan Hughes  08:30

Well, I actually studied at the what’s called the French Culinary Institute, which switch to the culinary No, the International Culinary Center in Manhattan in Soho. That was in the 80s in 89. And it was mind blowing. I had been already in New York before but when I got to school, I was blown away. I completely was blown away. And then I realized that the actual school happened after the school when I started working in the different kitchens. My first recommendation came by a famous chef, Jacques Pepin, which he picked up the phone and hooked me up in a restaurant and the minute I walked in, and you hired Hi, Jack, when are you hired? So then my period in, in New York was was against the rule, because everybody was gonna You gotta build a resume of you have to stay long in a place and I was like, No, I want to pick up what I learned from this establishment when I’m done. I’m going to another one and another one and another one. And so I did a lot of switching around. And I that was very, very, very fruitful. That was a complete school because I accept, you know, vegetable carving or ice carving. I think I’ve done it all, you know. And yes, you know, there’s moments of, I don’t know I even remember I remember one day like this Stupid image of like, sneaking out the back door and getting high with another chef, you know, and then going back in, and just basically check the lentils, and I open the oven door. And I look at this pot of lentils and saying, Ah, I love this as stupid as that. Crazy, you know, it’s just loving what you do. And of course, you know, later in the years when you get all the, you know, recognition or when they value what you’ve done. You know, it’s very, it feeds, you know, it feeds you very much. But I also remember, once I was in, I was also in New York. And one day I said, I’ve never been to Ibiza. Let me let me go to a visa. And so I planned and I went to visa, and I arrived. And you know, it was difficult to get work. And then finally I get work because I just wanted to work there. And it was during the summer and so forth. And then you know, my girlfriend arrived to Isa. So we were there. And then at some point, because there was no work, I ended up in this cheating Guido in the beach, which is like, you know, like a like a beach little place, you know, a cheap place. And I was I remember that I was there looking out of the window. And I could see the amazing ocean, the all the women naked in the nude beach, I’m flipping sardines. And I’m saying what the hell am I doing here? He goes again,

Achim Nowak  11:44

this is about you. But that moment, I wanted to share a little story from my life when I was in my 20s. And I was broke. And this is my first day on the job at a restaurant a blocked from the White House in Washington, DC. And I already went like I hate this stupid place, you know, and I had to wear this plastic apron, which was ugly as sin. And it was the lunch shift. And the manager who was this woman who was younger than me who had this whiny voice said, oh, yeah, and you know that apron cost $17. And we’ll deduct it from your first paycheck. And in my mind, I’m thinking oh, no to get my section is full full of people, I take the orders. And I’ve dumped the apron in the trash and just walked out with my midsection fill and said, really? You want me to pay $70 The others moments when it’s a ludicrous thing, right? I want to support you in that. But I also my sense of you is and and I say this with great honors that you have a rebellious streak, you will put up with all these so much and you’ll say Screw this. Is that correct? For me to say that?

Alan Hughes  12:59

Yes. Even though I do keep quiet. I keep it quite professional. Because I don’t like to burn bridges or closed doors. Unfortunately. It’s like that. And so yes, yeah, you know, I can be in a situation that I’m uncomfortable. I’m like, I’m out. I don’t care or you I don’t care who you are, you know, we’re all human. No, you should know. Yeah, there’s a limit.

Achim Nowak  13:24

The positive side of that mindset is and people say well, I’m just going to have to have your own restaurant right if you don’t want to work in this culture, this environment. Before we get to your to your restaurants in Miami I because I live in Manhattan. And when I saw on your bio that you did a little stint at Gracie Mansion, which for non New Yorkers may mean nothing but in Manhattan. That’s a big deal. That’s where Ed Koch and David Dinkins and all of those guys entertain my senses. That sound absolutely horrible. But what was that? Like? Can you give us a taste of what it was like to do some cooking cheffing in the mayor’s resume?

Alan Hughes  14:04

Well, I hope your podcast doesn’t get very, very popular because I want to say something a bit. When I was when I entered working at the Gracie Mansion, I was illegal. And nobody knew. I did a flaw in the system. But I managed to get in. So they hired me and I was there. And that was exactly when Nansel Nelson Mandela came to New York after he was released from from prison. I remember that exact day in watch. The Gracie Mansion had about 20 blocks, you know, surrounding 20 blocks. There was security, nobody could even walk and I would flip my badge or the bracelet you mentioned and keep on passing. You know, barricades until you know, I cooked for mayor for Nelson Mandela. A couple of days later, the other chef the one that was from Monday to Friday. He’s like Alan, come come it takes me to the garden is Like, is it

Achim Nowak  15:01

true that you’re illegal? Get out now. Okay, sorry. Guys. I’ve been in South Florida Miami area for 18 years. Like you, I was in Manhattan, I came here. You, you started a restaurant before I actually knew you’re called 190, which as I understand it was a very, it was a very small place it and it wasn’t a part of town that as much as it was just sort of emerging and becoming hip and trendy. And you wonder people around the Miami design district or adjacent to the Design District, and you created a place there. So what I’m curious about how’d that come about? And what did it take inside of you to make that happen?

Alan Hughes  16:03

I was in Miami Beach, I was working, I had been working as a chef in an Italian restaurant and so forth. And then, you know, I veered. There was a lot of production in Miami with with photoshoots, models, catalogs and so forth. I started doing production, catering, and we started getting very, very busy. Me and my wife at the moment, we started getting very, very busy. And then at some point, I remember going to the Design District to pick up my daughter to her friend’s house one evening. And in my mind, I’m like, we need a kitchen. We need a real kitchen, we need a real kitchen. And after a pickup, I swing by this abandoned sort of restaurant that it says for rent, and a phone number. And I arrived home I call the next day I had the keys. Wow. I had no money because you know, money was coming in. I borrowed money I paid. We actually started that restaurant with zero money. Now when I tell my son Oh, you got to do a business plan. No, you gotta. I did that impulsively, and it was an overnight success. It was a time of no social media, no marketing for restaurants. We got press from England from wallpaper magazine from so many publications we got I got a James Beard Award from there. It was just crazy crazy.

Achim Nowak  17:34

My senses and because I went to your the second restaurant that you had the embassy, but 190 I didn’t know, obviously, you’re a really, really good chef. But it takes more than that, in my opinion to have a restaurant that becomes a thing. Right, that gets the kind of attention. There’s a vibe, there’s a something Could you describe? What’s your sense of why? Why that place? 190 was this incident hit? How did that happen?

Alan Hughes  18:06

Well, the typical, the typical comment of the right place at the right time, I think that’s what it was. There wasn’t a place that a combine this sort of Bohemian and Schick thing at the same time. That you know, celebrities would come for brunch, and then all the friends would come for brunch and, and we had music every night. It was just, it was a combination of myself, my wife being in the front of the house, which is an outstanding goddess and host and it does take not only making good food because I mean yeah, you can go to a place and enjoy good food and just say okay, great, the food is great, fine, but it adds so much more when the food and the person that that serves you and the vibe and the ambiance and so forth is great. You have been in restaurants that the food is good and the place a hole in the wall and you don’t mind you eat it and you love it. And you actually might even love the fact that is a hole in the wall. But when it all combines it’s so much more and that it takes a lot of one’s personality. You know, of course as a chef, you have to be on top of the food but everybody wants to come and see you and sometimes you’re in the back of the kitchen or you’re in the kitchen and you’re like I don’t want to go outside but you have to unfortunately is the job and you you know you’re gonna hear the same questions over and over from every table. You know how it is. But but you know, you you you have to be cut to do a restaurant. It’s you know, unique

Achim Nowak  19:53

what what my sense is also that you and Donna your ex your You are attractive human beings, you both have impeccable energy. There’s a certain bohemian aura around you that I think and I mean, in a positive way, and you have impeccable personal energy. And as you described so beautifully that that’s sort of part of the itch factor. Right? That that makes people want to come back because they want to talk to you. They want to talk. Yeah.

Alan Hughes  20:24

Right. Yeah, probably happens to you as a guest. It does happen to me as a guest, that I go to such restaurant, because it’s my friend’s restaurant or somebody I know. And then you go on, he’s not there. And it’s not the same. It’s a bit of a curse for the restaurant owner. Because you have to be there all the time. It’s not that people are like, Oh, I came and you weren’t here. It wasn’t the same. You hate that, you know? Let me have a day off.

Achim Nowak  20:52

Now. Let’s talk about music and rock and roll and performance of when did that become important to you? And let me stop there. When did that become important to you?

Alan Hughes  21:09

Well, when I was 13, I picked up my guitar actually, I started playing piano when I was very young. But it was classical piano, I could read and write, you know, I mean, no, I could read and play. But it was so classical. It wasn’t my cup of tea, and I was playing rugby at that time. And, you know, I was like, you know, whatever. And then, but then when I was 13. I remember that to two houses away, my cousins would have their huge house and a little cottage in the back. And in the cottage in the back. They had a band, and I was I would hear them from the houses away. I was like, Oh, I love that. I want to do that. You know, then I would go I was the youngest one of all these people. And this was like 40 people there watching them rehearse and play. And I was like, Oh, I love this. And so I started learning guitar. And I learned very, very quickly. And then my father, you know, saw that I was doing very well. And he ordered by a luthier. This very, very nice guitar. And I kept on going with that, you know, so it’s been ongoing. However, Argentina in the late 80s, it was a tough place because well, it still is as far as economy because it’s messed up. I couldn’t see much of a future me dedicating myself fully with, with music. And so I already had that duality because I was doing that Stosh cooking, and I was playing music. In fact, I started playing guitar in this band that eventually made it great, you know, Argentina. But then I realized it came to a point that it was right at the end of my stash, that I was ready to get out of Argentina and I emigrated, that’s when I decided no, Argentina doesn’t give me the tools for me to do what I wanted to do. In fact, I did declare it I said, this country in 30 years is going to be the same or worse. And I was right.

Achim Nowak  23:22

What interests me so much about what we’re talking about is, you know, we live in a culture where people, people say you have to choose, you know, if you want to be successful, you have to focus. If you want to be a lawyer, you have to study and you have to put all your attention. And so your real estate as well as a lawyer, whatever, in the idea of pursuing several things at the same time. It’s usually not like, the PERT people will counsel you about your career, they usually don’t advise that right? Yet many people have like you have multiple passions. Yeah. What I’m curious about, because I could imagine that there must have been moments where there’s this inner tension where you go, I should fully commit to music and make it the most important thing or No, I should fully commit to my restaurants because it takes a lot energy to grow them. I can’t do both. Like, how have you reconciled that?

Alan Hughes  24:14

Well, I haven’t. I haven’t, because it still dawns on me. I mean, I sometimes say, why don’t I just play? You know? And I remember that my father would have were always telling me you have to do one thing and do it right. And I was like, what? I love so many things. And nowadays, I do love so many things. And from each thing that I love, I learn and I keep on finding new little crevices or things that I should polish up or learn more about because to me, I mean, it’s never ending the learning process is never ending. Especially with all the technology now forget it. No. So But the question is, it’s still open for me because I don’t know if I’ll be able to relinquish any other other things that I do. And then recently, all the videos started popping up. And now it seems like it’s taking so much more than you know now I have on my list now that I finished this this deadline that I had two days ago. I’m like, Okay, please Allen, focus on the next song you need to record because there’s nothing going up

Achim Nowak  25:33

a word from your sponsor. That’s me. I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast Fourth, you will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups where cool people figure out how to chart their own fourth acts. Please check it out. And now back to the conversation. Well, so let’s talk about your YouTube videos. Your what I admire about you about many things is that you very much on your own, you know, without having a big sponsor who paid you lots of money you have flown all over the world, literally all over the world. You shoot food videos, travelogue, travelogues and I would say, of course, immediately Anthony Bourdain comes to mind who but you who in the end was more package, you know, and His personality was more package and you are more unpackaged? What drives you to fly to all these places, man inside of you to to do these videos where you do it without a contract, you don’t do it because you have a deadline, that we can talk about your recent deadlines that you mentioned. But what animates that in you.

Alan Hughes  27:05

I mean, I think it’s fueled by what you see in the videos. It’s just the experience of the place I go, which I love traveling. I love food, and I love humanity, I love how people are in their own places I love to capture their day to day, ultimately, you know, it’s a it’s a travel and food blog. But ultimately, food might become even secondary because the thing that surrounds everything about maybe a simple little thing made with flour. That’s it, you know, but but all that surrounds it is what really drives me so it’s a combination, you know, the wine or the drinking or the Scotch or the beer or whatever the the tradition is there, the scenery, the place and of course the food and the people it’s that’s what really drives me essentially, you know.

Achim Nowak  28:05

My sense is that the videos are also another, another form of performance for the performer in you. You’re not You’re not the shot. You’re not a shy, quiet host. You know, when I think of Stanley Tucci you know, who does the Italy’s show on CNN, you’re the anti Stanley Tucci, like on your YouTube videos, you take up the screen? And does that how does that relate to your rock and roll? Is it similar? Is it different? I’m just curious.

Alan Hughes  28:35

Well, it’s interesting to know how it all started. Because, you know, with these cameras, like the GoPros, the little ones that started coming up, you have to understand that you know, you me from our generation, when we were kids, we will never dreamt of something like that. First of all, if somebody had a camera that was this big thing like that, that would have to carry with the cast it was so you know, and so that’s why I say that I’m a 50 year old millennial, because really, I drool on all the things that we have right now. And the kids right now do not know so much how much we dreamt of these things. So when these little cameras started coming up, I would be crazy, you know, and I’m fact about the first one I started filming in the in the kitchen just stupid stuff on you know, blanching and asparagus or melting chocolate or whatever. And then you know, friends started telling me oh, good, you’re going to do with all that for you. You got to do something. And eventually, organically. It started flowing into a blog. First of all, you know, they were telling me Yeah, but you have to script Did you No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, my friend. This is not how he’s gonna go. This is what I’m doing is different. And I told the producers and everything But people friends of mine, oh, no, no, no, no, no, you’re wrong. This is not how he’s going to be watched in the future I told him. And then, you know, I got an editor that started editing for me. And then eventually I couldn’t pay him anymore. And then I started editing and I realized I could edit. So now I’m, like, completely free. So back to your question that it all grew so organically, that I was with, I’ve been with a camera on all the time. And it’s my body, which is eventually you or whoever’s watching it, because I’m sharing the story with my camera like, he’s my buddy traveling with me. And so I essentially do not, or sell them act. I am myself. And I show the ugly sides the unmanaged, cured myself, the everything I’m showing, truthfully, who I am, you know, I think that’s one of the things that relates to the person. So really to answer your question, it’s natural. It’s not. I mean, I don’t have a problem with getting another camera and saying something because I have to say it sometimes do for for editing purposes that it helps, but it’s just simple. No, it’s just second nature.

Achim Nowak  31:22

Yeah. Now in the channel and be in sports, just picked up some of your YouTuber, food travelogues, I need to label it that way. It is very cool. Anything you want to tell us about that? Because you’ve been working away and somebody says, Oh, we want it on me. But tell me about being sports, because I don’t know what the in sports is.

Alan Hughes  31:44

Well being sports is, is a TV network is very big. They, they do a lot of sports, mainly sport, sorry. And, and recently, I decided to go to Qatar, host of the World Cup was happening next month. And I said, You know what, I’m going to shoot some episodes related to the food and culture of Qatar. So people, essentially people that cannot travel, can see a bit of Qatar, or the people that travel can get more information, or maybe hopefully, a channel because you know, during World Cup, you tired of watching footballs and fans and T shirts, you’d like tired. So I figured this would be a nice break visually and in for audio for transmission. So I did these captions, just like my format that I like five minute format. And being sports picked it up. So there are 17 episodes, I did them in Spanish and in English. So they pick both of them. And they’re going to be in all their all the platforms digital and air TV. And I have to get the breakdown, but pretty much is, you know, the Americas Middle East Asia. So what it’s fascinating. And back to the question you were saying before is that those little videos I was doing finally get approved or get welcome or reached a point in which a TV network is once them. When I was conceiving the idea I was defying all the producers that were telling me now No, no, no, no, no, no. You know, now I was right.

Achim Nowak  33:37

Well, especially first of all, and really happy for you get that it’s been picked up, which is fantastic. But also what I get from your story, and this is I want to relate this to our listeners as well. When you put out something as personal as your travelogues. You said, it’s It’s you It’s non scripted, and you edit it but it’s you what they’re buying is you right, yeah. And so when they reject us, they reject us. And when they buy us they buy us it’s very personal right when we build out, see? Yeah,

Alan Hughes  34:12

you know, I’ve let it’s interesting because right now I’m publishing all the Qatar episodes, but if you go a little back, I had a couple of them and Burning Man which I went to Burning Man and Nuala. And if you if you see those episodes, the food is just two seconds. I mean, in one of the episodes, I’ll even laugh at myself because the food is it’s just a sandwich that was like my food today is this. That’s it. It’s mostly about the experience of Burning Man. I like how I can actually see narrowing those things down and managing them. The most common comment I get is Oh, I love because I traveled with you, you know and so that also helps me as an angle Because I can be in Miami, I’m like, Oh, I’m going to the beach. But in Argentina, they’re like, Oh, you’re going to the beach in Miami Beach? No. So I also have to say, wait a minute, wait a minute, so that sometimes I illustrate things that to me second nature, like going to the airport, you know, I’m going and you know, checking in. Some people don’t take a plane. And so I started incorporating those things, because I’m not explaining Well, you take the ticket now. Now, I just show them and people love that, too. So, you know, you have to understand that you have to do a check on yourself.

Achim Nowak  35:39

You know, somebody might listen to you and want to ask this question on behalf of our audience might go, Wow, it sounds like when Alan has an idea, he just picks up and goes and goes on the trip. And I’m the kind of person when I go on a trip, I plan every little detail in advance, because that makes me feel safe and comfortable. I wish I could be more like Alan and just sort of go on a trip and see what happens. But I’m afraid it’s going to be a horrible experience. What words of wisdom would you have for somebody who wants to be a little more like you, but maybe it’s afraid of being that way?

Alan Hughes  36:19

Well, look, I tell you, my when I graduated from high school, my father did to me what he did to everyone in my family. He gave us a ticket to Europe and the USA 400 bucks and a Eurail pass and he said, Go and so I learned how to be on my own, and trust my instincts or intuition. You know, I don’t plan everything. I now with age I do. You know, I get hotels ahead of time I get ahead of time. I try to get tickets and so forth. But just recently I was in, in con in the south of France. I mean, two weeks ago, you know, I’m on a train. And I had to go to Marseille and it’s late at night. And you know, I had to take a wrong train and so forth. So I’m like stopping in every stop, and I stopped being gone. And I hear that there’s a cannula Walker after more closer to to Marseille. Well, let’s go my tic ad. Okay, let’s go boom, I arrived to Canada can Lavaca I get off? And there’s nothing or no one. And I’m like, no, why did I do this? And then go back. I had to wait an hour for a five minute train. I go back, and I stay in gun. And all the little hotels right there. They’re booked? I’m like, No, and it’s CD, you know, right then the station of Kansas a little so. So I’m like, You know what, I’m staying in the station. And I? Yeah.

Achim Nowak  37:55

I got you. Because I owe you a little bit. I know, in your personal life I’ve been I think of it as two major milestones. First of all, you you alluded to getting older you were born in 1968. So you’re 54 years old, your mother who had had the privilege of meeting it was an extraordinary woman passed recently. And which is still hard for me to believe that Alan use as a grandfather, but Alan use of the grandfather. So let’s, let’s talk about how these two milestones like what it’s like for you to, to sort of move through those. Let’s start with your mother. What’s it like to to know that your mother has left this physical plane?

Alan Hughes  38:42

As my mother was getting older, I really shifted my focus my personal focus on you know, not so much on work, or even with my kids. I will be like, Look, kids this Christmas, I’m not going to be here. Hope you don’t mind. I just want to go with Nana, you know, she’s getting older. And she’s like, No problem, dad. I think it’s perfect. So I did start my mother. So just so for the audience understands I’m based in Miami, and my mother was living in Mendoza in Argentina. So I would go off and I will go more or less about four times a year to Argentina, or sometimes. And sometimes I would stay four months there. And I realized that it’s not only that I wanted to go and help my mother because she was a little, you know, she had a little challenge on her body moving and so forth. She could move and so forth. But her mind was bright. But she had a little challenge and I wanted to go and help but not only help her enjoy her. So I I would go four times I think even more a year and spend time with her and I will be just great. I would call her every day we would message each other twice a day, three times a day. It was great. She was my best friend and I would jer stuff, like my best friend, I would send it, you know, something cool would happen, I will send an audio and so forth, you know. And so she decided to come to see her sister in Connecticut, that we made arrangements, she arrived to Miami. Then she went to see her sister. And then she came back to Miami, when she was back in Miami, she saw all her relatives, my granddaughter, my son came from Atlanta, and so forth. And then at the end, she was like, No, I want to go home, I want to go mom, sure, you don’t want to stay here, we can go to the pool this and then I want to go home. And she went home, um, four days after she passed. So I look at it. Like she did the farewell tour. And she very well knew that. And she probably when she was in Argentina, she said, You know what, I don’t want anybody changing me a diaper. I don’t want to get to that point. I don’t want to be anything for anybody. If I have to go, I have to go. And she was very religious. She knew that when her time was gonna come she was gonna go. So I felt Of course, sadness. But and surprised because I was just her I was still feeling the kiss that she gave me. And I was like, okay, but I am in complete peace. I’m in joy. It’s completely fine. You know.

Achim Nowak  41:24

As you speak, I speak about my I think about my my mother who’s still alive. But she’s 97. And I don’t doubt I will have emotions when he passes. But I am at complete peace with my mother. So I complete I totally understand what you said. Now, because you still are relatively young guy in his early 50s, Alan, but you just became a grand father, give us a snapshot of what that experience is like for a younger person, like you?

Alan Hughes  41:57

Well, I mean, I remember when I became a father that I realized that this sort of like, new window and my soul opened up like a new space, like a new, like, I opened this new, you know, door of a new room in my house that I didn’t know about with being a grandfather is the same. And it’s just, it’s just incredible. It’s just it comes. It brings sense of reinforcement. Or yeah, I say reinforcement and even like, like a confirmation that, you know, things are going well, you know, and when I see this little thing is just incredible. It’s just incredible. Particularly this little one, she’s very smart. She’s very outgoing. She’s also a Gemini. So it’s funny, because my birthday is on the third of June, hers is on the sixth of June, and my son is on the ninth of June. So in one week, we have three birthdays. And I also told my daughter, the mother, that she sort of ruined my life, because if she happens to move to a Congo in Africa, I would have to move to be close to my little granddaughter.

Achim Nowak  43:20

As you look to the future, and you have a lot of life left in you, and it’s life, it’s all about choices, you know, we can think about I want to do more of it, or I want to do less of this, or I’ve always wanted to do this, but I’ve never really done it and why the hell not now, what’s our thinking about as he thinks about the future?

Alan Hughes  43:41

Well, surely I would like to play more live that I would love to play more. Just recently, I had a show in England, and it was very moving. First of all it specifically because it wasn’t the town where my grand mom with my grandfather was from. But second because I was surprised at the response because most of my songs are in Spanish. And the response was great, you know, people were digging it were listening, you know, it was very, very, very, very welcoming. So that was very nice. And then you know, before that, I mean, it’s going to be a year already. But I did a tour in Argentina 18 shows and it was great. So I would like to I would like to be able to fit in more music. Definitely. I think continue my path with the videos because I have a lot of projects and I have big projects, which I have mentioned. And that is actually very inspiring for me. So So I think it’s going towards that direction.

Achim Nowak  44:40

So since you have I have a lot of projects, which I haven’t mentioned, if you weren’t meant to mention just one and one that you feel comfortable mentioning even even if it’s not a signed deal or anything. What’s your project that you’re excited about that’s percolating?

Alan Hughes  44:56

Well, one that is seems very plausible. if you will, or very Yeah, is one that I thought about many years ago, you know, in Argentina, we had the War of the Falklands, the two islands in the South of Argentina. It was a stupid war, I’m not gonna get into details. But we went into war with a Great Britain, and Great Britain wiped us out and the Falklands remain from the Great Britain. And Argentina remains very bitter about it, because that we, you know, Argentina keeps on claiming that there, there’s whatever I’m not gonna get into politics. But I thought of, of a project of flying for musicians from the UK, and for musicians from Argentina, flying them to the islands, getting them into a house in which we would create and record 11 songs that don’t talk about war or peace. It’s just a turning of the page completely. No, no nothing. And then we will do a show in the islands are showing one aside is a show in Great Britain, and then the documentary finishes. And recently, I just came from England, and I found people very interested in my idea. So it seems I don’t ever want to talk too much. But that seems possible.

Achim Nowak  46:20

So I have to I’m going to end with this question. Because as we listened to you, you were in Birmingham, you were in India, you want Can you were in Argentina, and people might go this is just a rich, independently wealthy guy. He’s a trust fund kid, you know, Mom and Dad gave him a lot of money. You’re not a wealthy person. Yet you have created this lifestyle where, where you find a way of indulging your passions and flying all over the world. The How the hell do you do that?

Alan Hughes  46:55

You know, I think people I don’t know how people travel, you know? So I cannot judge how when somebody says, Oh, I want to go to France, what do they think? Or how do they think they’re going to travel? You know, if they book, a tour, or whatever, you know, to me, traveling? Is the ticket, a place where to stay? And then you know, day to day food and moving around? Of course that has a cost. But when I travel? I’m mostly in the street filming. And you know, I don’t care about the finish of the of the furniture in my hotel. No, I I need a good bathroom. Good bed. That’s it clean. That’s it. That’s all I need. You know, I’ve I’ve shared rooms with with people I have no problem. I’d shared rooms in Russia and China what I don’t care, you know. So, I think people might have a wrong sense of that they not aware that they can actually do the traveling differently. You know, and, and thus be there, you know, so I think that comes with a lot of traveling that I’ve done. I’ve traveled on my own. My first trip on my own. My father allowed me to travel when I was 13 out of the country. He signed the papers not sure sure my father was a travel, he traveled a lot too. So and then, you know, I just reconnected with the energy of my, with my grandfather, my English grandfather, my English grandfather lied. On his age, he was younger, but he lied on his age to go to for for World War One to fight for the British. So how come I not going to embrace that? What am I afraid of? Nothing.

Achim Nowak  48:57

That’s a perfect note to end our compensation on now. Where would you like to direct people who are curious about your music about your videos? Your cooking? Well, where can people find you out?

Alan Hughes  49:12

So my YouTube channel is Chef Alan Hughes. That’s Hu ga je s and Alan is ala en so it’s chef Alan Hughes. You can see all my my blog there my videos, you also see music videos as well. My Instagrams account our chef Alan Hughes, and I have Alan’s use rocks for music. And that’s pretty much it.

Achim Nowak  49:37

Wonderful. Thank you so much for your impeccable energy and to get through this conversation I loved speaking with you.

Alan Hughes  49:46

Well, thank you again for having me. It’s an honor because I see all the personalities that you have in the new podcast which by the way, you’re 90 What now,

Achim Nowak  49:57

you’re aware with episode 80 Europe isn’t really one I’m ready to now. So I’ve been doing these Yeah, yeah. Wow. Yeah.

Alan Hughes  50:03

I remember when you started so like, really I applaud you. I applaud you.

Achim Nowak  50:08

Thank you, Alan. Like what you heard, please go to my fourth And subscribe to receive my updates on upcoming episodes. Please also subscribe to us on the platform of your choice. Rate us give us a review and let us all create some magical fourth acts together. Ciao


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