Anybody here familiar with the Paleo diet? If you are like me, then this neo-dietary term is bound to bring up mental images of cavemen tucking away into large slabs of raw, bleeding meat. This is not too far away from the truth, albeit there is a lot more to it than first meets the eye.
Imagine the BHC Magazine team’s surprise when we paid a visit to the Coco Café – a lovely tropical-themed venue that qualifies as one of the more popular ladies picks from locales of interest that have opened up over the past year – only to discover its culinary pursuits lean heavily toward the Paleo concept. With the owner Mr Tan, content to oversee the coffee aspect of the business, he has entrusted the running of the kitchen and services to one friendly and incredibly bubbly Ms Brenda in her capacity as the head chef.
Taking the time to educate us a little more, Chef Brenda explains, “Simply put, the Paleo diet is real food made from real ingredients. Everything is fresh and straight from the earth with no processing whatsoever.” Taking a moment to ponder this, Brenda points out that most people want to live healthy but also want to live happily, and that is made a lot tougher when there are so many unhealthy yet tasty choices at our finger tips.
“Have you noticed that so many people are into fitness nowadays?” Chef Brenda says, before adding that with the increase in gym-goers and joggers, people need more access to foods with little or no sugar, little or no fat and definitely no preservatives. “This is what I mean by it is straight from the Earth. Unaltered, just the way it is supposed to be.” When asked why this was a direction she wanted to take, the head chef responds, “Because everything here is always the same. Don’t you want something different?”
Going by the Instagram handle @Chef.Aoki, Chef Brenda (who loudly announced she loved food on an average of once every 15 minutes) began her commercial pursuits in the food and beverage industry as an e-vendor preparing lunch boxes for her online customer base. Two years later saw her roped into Coco Café and almost 1 year after that, completely at home delivering instructions to her team of 13 staff. Comprising Bruneian, Indonesian and Filipino nationals, it soon becomes obvious that the team has good chemistry.
A quick trip into the kitchen reveals a section of wall with large white tiles, and within the boundary of each individual square are written messages both encouraging and humourous. It brings to mind the ‘Learning Glass’ product that is so often popular with creative design agencies as a means to scribble ideas on a wall, such as during brainstorming sessions. This silent moment of appreciation comes to an abrupt end with the sudden sound of impact. An assistant chef nearby has begun cutting and filleting fresh fish.
“We import our salmon fresh from Singapore,” Chef Brenda says, adding, “It is the only product that we bring in from overseas. Everything else is sourced within Brunei. It’s good timing that you chose to visit us today. Every Monday is when we receive our shipment.” Good timing indeed.
Capable of accommodating around 100 people at full capacity, being booked for private events such as birthdays, as well as offering catering services, this tropical themed café within the heart of a tropical nation was designed to be an escape for those dining in. A lengthy outdoor with a large projector screen was recently used for televised World Cup 2018 matches.
By the time this story is published, Coco Café will have celebrated its 1st year anniversary (August 18), some 3 weeks ago. One can’t help but wonder if patrons on this special day received an unexpected treat as part of this celebration. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.