I have always had a dream.
I stroll out of the airport terminal immaculately attired to see a smiling local man with a cardboard sign sporting my name.
He whisks me off in a private car with my own private driver to an exotic villa overlooking the beautiful blue sea with a beautiful lady on my arm feeling a tad like James Bond with whisky instead of martini.
Derek Milroy (R, 1st) with his wife (L, 1st) and Michelin-star chef Michel Roux
Well, my dream finally became reality after I was fortunate enough to be invited along with my stunning wife to sample Michelin-star chef Michel Roux’s cuisine at La Maison 1888 located in the super-posh Intercontinental Đà Nẵng Sun Peninsula Resort.
I can assure the Tuổi Trẻ readers this is not normally my hotel of choice and was a once in a lifetime stay due to my Scottish frugality, fighting the few thousand đồng left in my wallet.
But when the Lord deals you a good hand, you have to enjoy it as the moment is gone far too quickly as I write this with post-weekend getaway blues.
We had all the amenities of celebrity life at our disposal in the village of villas there at the resort.
A little golf-cart whisking you from the beach, restaurant or reception and not forgetting to mention the first resort in Việt Nam to have its own, albeit small, cable car.
Having never been to Đà Nẵng before it was also a chance to look around the city, find out about the local craftsmen, the dilapidated American bases from yesteryear, the beach and seafood specialties – and we even had the chance to check out Hội An Ancient Town for a few hours before the midday heat got the better of us.
And not forgetting to mention the dragon bridge which only officially opened the day we arrived.
We didn’t see any fire though, such is life.
But back to the man himself – Mr Roux.
Sometimes when you meet someone you admire from afar you are really disappointed.
This charismatic Frenchman is a real gentleman.
He took the trouble to show me around his kitchen and explain everything in great detail about his plans to train the first Michelin-star chef and make the La Maison the first Michelin-star restaurant if the red tape is in place.
He is not in it for the short-term and admits not only is he really fond of the Vietnamese cuisine.
Now, ask my wife – I am not a dab hand in the kitchen unless you are particularly fond of banh mi and cheese.
But I do admire someone who is really passionate about his work and his intensity and attention-to-detail was frankly impressive.
This man does not need to work and could sit with my feet and enjoy his vintage years.
But he admitted he loves a challenge and that is the reason he was lured to Việt Nam, not for the money.
He wants to make the Vietnamese chefs under his wing the best he possibly can and if anyone can do it….
Roux almost single-handedly, he had his brother Albert’s help, transformed cuisine in England so much so that he was personally thanked by Queen Elizabeth herself.
Now, he finds himself with another challenge in a country where the cuisine is famed, not necessarily the world over yet.
So if anything he will need to try harder to achieve his goals.
After enjoying dinner he shared a glass of red wine at our table and charmed the ladies with his anecdotes before it was time to call it a night.
The next morning it was time to head back to reality after our brush with luxury and as we headed off at 6am on our golf cart, who did we see bright and bushy-eyed at work?
Mr Roux had just returned from the food market in Đà Nẵng.
He was buzzing with enthusiasm and admitted that when he visits a new city the first thing he does is go to the local market.
His thinking is:
“How can you make food for local people if you don’t know what they eat?”
France and Britain’s loss is Việt Nam’s gain.
Let’s hope Mr Roux sticks around for a little while longer.