Lee Brian Schrager Ate His Way Through Southeast Asia

There are two ways to handle the pressure of planning one of the biggest food festivals in the world: Sit at your desk tapping away at the keys on your computer, your mind frantically pedalling through names and events like a Spandex-clad girl in a spin class; or get out of the office and take an inspirational trip to an exotic and off-the-radar, barely-on-the-satellite locale. Lee Brian Schrager, with the specter of the massive South Beach Wine & Food Festival looming before him February 21-24 (more info here on the fest), chose the latter path.

Sure, Schrager had already booked a serious cache of talent for SOBE, with headline-grabbing names ranging from Andrés to Zimmern scheduled and booked for Miami, so he probably felt like he deserved a getaway. And man, does he know how to get it done! As he tells us in the latest Just Back From, Schrager headed to Southeast Asia to explore culinary paths less traveled, and to do a little shopping (hence the attached photo). He also says the trip was just "pleasure," but we wouldn't be surprised to find some Asian influence popping up at SOBE or at his other big gig, the New York City Wine & Food Festival in October.


Lee Brian Schrager, Founder & Director, Food Network South Beach and New York City Wine & Food Festivals; Vice President, Corporate Communications & National Events, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.

Where are you just back from?

Thailand and Laos.

Business or pleasure?



New Year's Eve! Ringing in 2013 at David Thompson's Nahm in Bangkok. The whole setting was really wonderful.


Seeing the extreme poverty in Laos, but the people are all really happy and lovely.

What airline(s) did you fly and how was it?

THAI Airways USA and Lufthansa — they were both great.

Where'd you stay and what's your mini-review of the place?

Three places: In Bangkok, the Four Seasons, which was a lovely property. In Luang Prabang (Laos), Amantaka, which was a great resort and experience. And in Chiang Mai we stayed at the Mandarin Oriental – one of the great hotels of the world with exceptional food, service and setting.

What was your best meal on the trip?

The street food and night markets in all three places – it was the best and most exciting.

Did you bring anything back and if so, what?

A pair of 18th Century wooden doors from Chiang Mai.

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