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Supermodel Jourdan Dunn Cooks Her Way Through Thailand
Runway star Jourdan Dunn started her formal YouTube career in 2012, when her cooking show, Well Dunn with Jourdan Dunn, premiered on Jay Z’s channel, Life+Times. Since then, the 25-year-old supermodel has gained a loyal online following of both fashion and food lovers alike. She’s filmed shows alongside friends like Cara Delevingne and Karlie Kloss, making menu items like shrimp tempura, jerk pork with Caribbean salsa, and sweet and sour ribs. And recently, Dunn upped the culinary ante by venturing outside of the kitchen to a far-flung new shoot location.
Early last month she premiered the first episode of her two-part series documenting her culinary adventure through Thailand, and today the final episode debuts. Watching this gorgeous being casually wander the eclectic cities and villages of Thailand is pretty entertaining. She gets “a little scared” before slurping down some cow’s-blood soup, asks for help deboning her fresh fried sea bass, and oohs and ahhs over the discovery of mango with sweet sticky rice. But she’s also interested in the culture and the love put into each dish she encounters, like the care chef “Mr. Pun” takes while cleaning and preparing the aforementioned sea bass. Most of all, she’s interested in seeking out her favorite Thai staple: spice. In the episode, she proudly states, “I’m just a freakin’ legend when it comes to this spicy shit.”
Dunn took a break from her regularly scheduled food programming to answer some questions about the show, the trip, the food, and just how much she really adores handling the heat.
How long have you been cooking and why did you want to start this video series?
There wasn’t a time growing up when I wasn’t in the kitchen. I grew up cooking with my grandma and mother. It was a way for the women in my family to connect and bond. I have a lot of happy memories in the kitchen. I wanted to share the joy, ease, and fun that can come from preparing food. Also, it’s where I am most comfortable to be myself. So it was a way for me to open up with my fans and not be guarded.
Why did you want to explore Thailand and learn about the country’s cuisine?
I have been fascinated with Thai food since my mum brought home a red Thai curry dish from her Thai coworker. Since that moment, I’ve been obsessed. We would buy Thai recipe books and try out the recipe for red Thai curry. We never really perfected it, but my admiration for the food and the culture continued to grow. I always dreamed of being able to travel to Thailand and get a firsthand look at the food markets.
What was the most surprising thing you learned about cooking while on your trip there?
I wouldn’t say surprising, but it was extraordinary to watch how passionate and committed Thai people are with their cuisine. Store owners wake up before sunrise to pick and prepare their shops with the freshest ingredients. There are no shortcuts. Everything there is made from scratch. It requires so much dedication.
What was the most interesting or weirdest thing you tasted?
It would definitely be the boat noodle soup that contains cow’s blood. I was a bit skeptical at first, but to my surprise it was amazing! The flavor was very deep, rich, and spicy. I was hooked.
What is your favorite Thai spice?
The chilies! I’m a chili fanatic, and that was another reason I was so drawn to the Thai cuisine—the way they use chili in the food. They are fresh and oh-so-spicy!
Have you always had a love of spice?
Yes, I have. I spent most of my childhood at my Jamaican grandmother’s house. Her cooking and tasting always involved spices, so it was normal to me and I developed a tolerance at a young age. My all-time favorite spicy food is anything jerked, as well as a spicy curry.
What was your favorite food market you visited in Thailand?
I loved the Amphawa floating market. We went in the evening and the setting was beautiful, which made the entire dining experience that much more enjoyable. We ate fresh grilled seafood overlooking the river. We also took a trip on a long tail boat and explored the surrounding canals and rivers. I remember there were hundreds of fireflies, which was quite magical.
Have you tried to cook any of the dishes you discovered while in Thailand at home?
As soon as I got back home, I wanted to show off to my mum, so I made her the pad kra pao gai [minced chicken and holy basil]. My son loved it since he’s a chili lover, too, but my mum couldn’t really handle the heat.
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