A word with An­drea Oschetti, founder of travel out­fit Blue­flower.

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Hong Kong–based ad­ven­turer An­drea Oschetti left the cor­po­rate world more than a decade ago, rein­vent­ing him­self as chef of a pri­vate kitchen, a travel pho­tog­ra­pher and writer, TEDx speaker, and now, “dream maker” at the months-old lux­ury travel out­fit Blue­flower ( blue­flower.la). Here, he speaks to us about three of his pas­sions: travel, books, and food.

WHAT IS BLUE­FLOWER ALL ABOUT?

The blue flower is a cen­tral sym­bol of Ro­man­ti­cism that rep­re­sents the search for per­sonal ful­fill­ment. My pas­sion is to share the life-en­rich­ing, trans­for­ma­tive power of travel with other peo­ple, so that’s why I started this com­pany. We have more than 40 itin­er­ar­ies all over the world, and to cus­tom­ize them we de­pend on mem­bers of what I call the Blue­flower Col­lec­tive. It’s a global com­mu­nity of like-minded, cre­ative in­di­vid­u­als—they are chefs, jour­nal­ists, artists, and so on—my con­tacts from 10 years of work­ing as a travel writer and pho­tog­ra­pher. Two ex­am­ples are the lead­ing ar­chae­ol­o­gist Damian Evans, who will nar­rate the his­tory of Angkor over din­ner be­fore a visit to the tem­ples, and in Italy, the culi­nary philoso­pher and wine spe­cial­ist Gae­tano Sac­coc­cio.

NAME ONE TRAVEL EX­PE­RI­ENCE THAT TOOK YOUR BREATH AWAY. Rid­ing a bi­cy­cle on the Silk Road from Italy to China, through deserts and steppes, alpine val­leys and high moun­tain passes. The weather var­ied from fur­nace-like heat to numb­ing cold and bit­ing winds. Be­sides the phys­i­cal de­mands of the trip, I also had to con­front the bu­reau­cratic cer­tain­ties and po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tain­ties of Cen­tral Asia. I chose my route in or­der to fol­low some of the great jour­neys in his­tory: those of Marco Polo, Genghis Khan, Xuan Zang, Alexan­der the Great, and Tamer­lane.

IS THERE ONE PLACE THAT DRAWS YOU BACK AGAIN AND AGAIN? The Hi­malayas. I’ve al­ways been more of a moun­tain per­son and my fa­vorite ac­tiv­ity is hik­ing. See­ing the Hi­malayas leaves me with a feel­ing of awe—they re­mind us of some­thing greater than us, and that puts us back in our place. The moun­tains also ap­peal to my sense of aes­thet­ics: I love Ja­panese and Chi­nese ink paint­ings, the ten­sion be­tween empti­ness and clar­ity, what you see and don’t see. Then you have the spir­i­tual as­pect: even if you don’t be­lieve in the lo­cal re­li­gions, you can still learn a lot from how they are prac­ticed.

WHO IS YOUR FA­VORITE TRAVEL WRITER? At the be­gin­ning of the 19th cen­tury, with the Great Game [a ri­valry be­tween the Bri­tish and Rus­sian Em­pires] shift­ing east­ward, Cen­tral Asia be­came the fo­cus of a gen­er­a­tion of brave ex­plor­ers. One of them was Sven Hedin, an ex­cep­tion­ally de­ter­mined and strong Swedish man. The ad­ven­tures recorded in his self-il­lus­trated 1925 au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, My Life as an Ex­plorer, im­pacted me deeply as a teenager. This was a real per­son, but it read like a book of fic­tion! I was amazed be­cause he was ab­so­lutely crazy. Sven and his com­pan­ions tried to find this city in the desert, then they passed a 7,000-me­ter moun­tain and he said, “Hey, let’s climb it!” So you can say he was a lit­tle bit of an In­di­ana Jones.

HOW DOES BE­ING CHEF OF A PRI­VATE KITCHEN IN­FORM YOUR TRAV­ELS? Through food, I’m able to un­der­stand a place even bet­ter than by read­ing a guide­book. Let’s take dim sum as an ex­am­ple: the sheer va­ri­ety of in­gre­di­ents, tex­tures, fla­vors, and cook­ing meth­ods tells you that Chi­nese cul­ture val­ues bal­ance and har­mony. If you’re an ob­ser­vant foodie—not just one who likes to try new dishes—you can see things and make con­nec­tions where most other peo­ple can’t.

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