The first time around, I thought the Thirsty Traveller left me out to dry.
It must have been a miscommunication, but for some reason my first call with Kevin Brauch, a TV presenter and host of several high-profile food and travel shows, doesn’t happen. When we finally connect, he immediately apologies.
“It’s okay,” I say. “I just assumed you were out drinking.”
Brauch laughs, because you don’t navigate through shows like the Thirsty Traveller, which showcased fine cocktails from Cuba to Australia, without being able to pick up on jokes and other conversational cues. Since that show ended in 2006 he has appeared on Iron Chef America, created his own YouTube channel, ‘Thirsty With A Twist‘ and consistently jumped on opportunities to connect with live audiences.
Most recently, for instance, Brauch was running classes at the Toronto Food and Wine Expo. It’s a gig he says he’s kept up for more than a dozen years, and one he describes more like an anthropological investigation than a few hours of glad-handing.
“I like doing events like these because I learn as much about the human condition, human culture, as I do giving back and teaching,” he says. “I don’t feel effective if I’m not doing beer dinners, harvest festivals, town halls, sharing my stories.”
Brauch says he has two TV projects currently in development, one of which he won’t talk about at all and another he said will continue his exploration of the worlds of chefs and dining. It’s a passion he says is not so much about ingredients as it is the art of hospitality. This is an area where Brauch waxes more poetic than you might expect.
“Look, horses can only ride so far before someone has to give them a break. Cities and towns were set up on that basis,” he said. “There wouldn’t be a menu (for travellers), just a pot of whatever they had available to them. The people in those places wanted to serve and take care of you.”
Though he admits he’s still coming to terms with what the average person can now shoot on an iPhone 7 vs. the $10,000 it might take to shoot a single episode of a TV show, Brauch says TV is still the most “covetable medium.” Maybe because, unlike streaming services, everyone with a cable package has the opportunity to be watching the same thing as their neighbour. It’s a unifying force — kind of like a great drink of a great meal.
“I’m fascinated by the similarities between cultures,” he says. “We all have the same clock — all the same time off to do our laundry, spend our time with family and friends. We’re still more the same than we are different. The table or a bar is a great place to agree or disagree, but basically to bring people together again. It’s been that way since the Vikings were fighting the Saxons. When you really get that, it’s pretty crazy.”
Behind The Scenes:
Photographer: David Spowart
Retoucher: Dimitri Aspinall
Producer & Art/Editorial Director: Steven Branco
Wardrobe Stylist: Alanna Dussiaumme
Makeup Artist: Jessica Tongg
Hair Stylist/Groomer: Darren Jansen, Pro Artist – L’Oreal Pro
Studio & Behind The Scenes Video: Mint Room Studios
Swagger Logo Animation: Calvin Hui