Home Articles FRANCOIS STOUPAN: THE SMILE BEHIND SHWE SA BWE

FRANCOIS STOUPAN: THE SMILE BEHIND SHWE SA BWE

Leena Salim  braves the mid-day traffic to find Francois Stoupan, General Manager of Shwe Sa Bwe, and finds a self-assured man of quiet confidence.

TELL US ABOUT YOU

I’m French. I was living in southwest of Toulouse in France. I’ve never travelled until I was 24. When I did, I realised it’s interesting to meet people. My friends had suggested I visit Myanmar. I came here in ’98 for the first time and fell in love with the country. I went back and decided to make a life project for kids in Myanmar, a training centre. I didn’t know exactly what it was to be at that time. So I worked backwards and planned it in 5 steps. What you see now is Step No.4. Step 5 will come very soon.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX
Reading essays and observing people.

WHAT DRIVES AND INSPIRES YOU
Only love is driving me. The love I give and the love that I can get from others. Myanmar is my principal source of inspiration.

GIVE US AN EXAMPLE
I was on a trip to a very remote village near the mountains in ’98. There were no tourists there. We crossed the village and there were many kids who followed us. As soon as we crossed the border, the kids suddenly stopped – they didn’t follow. We said our goodbyes. Amongst them were these 2 little girls who followed us too. They were very courageous, being very young. One of them came to me, smiled and gave me a flower. And then she went away; she was shy yet she took a risk. But the smile she gave me – I want this smile every day in my life. I want to wake up every day with this smile. I got it here. You see them everywhere.

WHERE DO YOU GO THEN TO BE INSPIRED
I go to Kayah state for inspiration. When I am there, I know why I am so much in love with Myanmar

WHAT’S YOUR COMFORT FOOD AND OF WHAT DOES IT REMIND YOU
My comfort food is simple; home-made French food with good quality products. A good organic green salad with simple and tasty dressing, a French open-air raised chicken cooked on a spit-roast and a vegetable gratin. I remember the veal stew from my mother and a Provençal dish called Eggplant Gratin with Cacalau sauce (made with anchovies). Probably the best dish I have ever eaten so far.

HOW DO YOU MAKE SHWE SA BWE STAND OUT FROM THE OTHERS
I’m a restaurant man. I love food. French people go out a lot for food. In my family there are many good cooks. When I owned a restaurant, I made the kind of food that I’d  like to have, the kind of restaurant that I’d  like to go to eat. Small. Cosy. Intimate. Nice outdoor garden.

IF YOU CAN HAVE ANYONE – DEAD OR ALIVE – TO SHWE SA BWE, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU PREPARE
My mother, which is not with us anymore. I would prepare her a veal stew

Shwe Sa Bwe re-opens for a new season with a new batch of trainees on September 2nd 2014. Watch this space for the full article on September 1st 2014.

 

 

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