Food and Friendship!

‘Do you like Chinese food? Or curry? Come dine with me then!’ Cooking and sharing favorite dishes are always my ways of making friends when I am abroad. My flatmates and I organize food party maybe once a month. And I love inviting friends over to cook together.

Let me introduce some of my favorite dishes that are not hard to cook and some dishes my friends have shared with me. Don’t think that I am professional cook and judge me with professional levels. I am just so keen on eating different kinds of food that I cannot bear having sandwiches everyday. (Well, no offense, but people here really are eating lots of bread and sandwiches!)

Roast chicken with honey and soy sauce is very delightful for someone favors sweet flavor! Honey in main dish seemed odd to my Portuguese flatmate but I insisted chicken can be a bit sweet! I mix garlic, sugar and soy sauce to make the sauce and left the chicken marinated for four hours. Some people prefer to leave it overnight so that the flavor is deep inside the drumstick. I know lots of European people prefer chicken breast in dishes but I like drumsticks too. (Juicy and comes with great value!) Before I put the chicken into oven, I applied honey onto it. After left it in the oven for 15 minutes, I took it out and applied another thin layer of honey. The honey helps make the outer layer yellow and a little crispy.

Beef curry with rice is another easy-to-do dish. The tip is to pan fry the beef until medium rare only. After the veges (onion, carrots and I luv apples in it as well!) are pan fried, put the curry paste and water in it. Finally add beef in the curry pot and slowly boil them until everything mix well together!

My American flatmate introduced me a very healthy dish! Roast butternut squash.

I couldn’t believe how easy and how delicious it can be! Simply cut them into half (or a quarter to make it faster to cook). It takes strength to cut them as they have hard skin but the skin will be so soft once it’s cooked. Usually after 30 minutes in the oven, you can smell the fantastic fragrance of the squash and you make sure the top looks a bit dark brown and means inside is already soft.

Cooking for oneself can sometimes be boring so I love inviting some friends to share dishes! Preparing meals makes me eat a wide range of food which I believe is healthier and cheaper saving the service fee at a restaurant. It’s fun and I feel sense of accomplishment every time when I see my food is done! Awesome~

Creative Management


‘Management’ is one of the most popular classes students take. The other day I was doing some research on ‘Organisation and Management of the CCIs’ and I found Pixar as a stunning example.

Pixar started in 1979 as only a Computer Graphic group. It was just part of the computer division of Lucasfilm and in 1986 it became as a corporation. Then Steve Jobs bought Lucasfilm’s digital division and founded Pixar. By this time, Pixar was mainly selling computer hardware to Walt Disney Studios. But the company wasn’t doing a good business selling computers. Jobs invested so much money and considered selling it over these 10 years. This corresponds to the lecture saying it takes years and lots of time to foster a master especially in arts field. (I can’t agree with it more since I was trained as a classical musician before this programme for 10 years and I still haven’t mastered anything.)

With the sources I’ve read, I came up with these 6 main principles used by Pixar

1. Challenge the status quo

After Disney bought Pixar in 2006, Disney’s Chief Executive put Directors from Pixar in charge of the Disney animation studios, so directors have more control as collaborators on their projects and to give them the creative freedom to use traditional animation techniques. This idea was opposed to the former Disney’s CEO Eisner’s decision that Disney would do only digital animation. Lack of actual progress despite the technological development was the issue.

2. Hire creative ppl who dare to jump 

The writer and director of The Incredible in 2005. Brad Bird is the 1st Pixar’s outside director. Bird had produced numerous films and tv series but didn’t have prominent success. He wrote the story without knowing the limitations of computer animation, so the movie was the most complex one for Pixar at that time.  Bird won his first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and the screenplay was nominated for Best Original Screenplay!

3. Learning

Employees not only learn the animation sector but also learn about culture and arts. Pixar offers classes for everyone to take and learning generates innovation.

4. Discipline

Story artist, Mr Downing stays inspired by drawing everyday, literally 365 days. He wants to overcome the pattern of creative drawing. So even after work, he draws. Original news is here.

Another example comes from the animation Brave, which just won the Oscar yesterday! The film show remarkable focus on detail, only present products of the utmost quality.‘It’s just a cartoon’ is what we normally think. But not what the artists think.  It must be hard to imagine that the hundreds of characters in the background actually require a ‘crowds’ department to accomplish. The production of a movie takes about 4 to 5 years from conception to a film. And this crowds department takes about two years along with the production process.  For the main character, red and curly haired Merida. The simulation department calculate the volume and weight of her hair and make it look real. They even knew why hair is curly from its biological nature. And they are aware of the water and heat will affect the curls.

Finally, her hair was a huge challenge for the ‘rendering’ department. Every hair isnumbered, in this case, 111,700. It takes hours to animate a single shot of her. In total, it takes three years just to get her hair correct. A very long original report about this.

Look at these fantastic pictures!

5. Dream like a child and put actions to realize it

The Co-Founder and President of Pixar Catmull had his degrees in physics and computer science. He tried to explain geometrical operations in high-school-level math but was discouraged by the professor. “This is ridiculous. I am not going to look at this.” But when he show to others, everyone understand it!

6 Don’t imitate, innovate

The coming short film Blue Umbrella is under the first-time director UnseldThe filmmaker comes from the more technical side of the Pixar division and not from the story department, which is where most of the short film directors originate. It’s the first Pixar film to be done in a completely hyper-real visual style. Unseld explained, “The feeling comes from the fact that we didn’t expect it”. So if the creator make the work stylized and make it formula, it would take away all the surprises. Animation is the magical moment of things coming to life.

We can see the management style is liberal but at the same time the ‘intrinsic’ desire to make a work perfect and the ‘extrinsic’ consideration about its effects on marketing have set extreme difficult standards for the artists to follow. It’s marvellous to see the management of this company and not to forget the hard-working behind splendid screen.