Where in the World Is Kenny Brushett?
Well the thing is, you never quite know.
But you can be sure of one thing: if he isn't hosting guests on the trip of a lifetime in some exotic locale, he's bringing the world home in flavorful ways. An exceptional mentor, leader, photographer and culinary wizard, Kenny is unlike anyone I've ever met.
You'll see it in the way I write, but if there were a Ken Brushett Fan Club, I'd be its president. He's one of the first people I had the opportunity to work with at Backroads and it has shaped my entire experience as a trip leader.
Young and impressionable, I first saw Kenny in action in Costa Rica. I figured that his way was not just the way to lead good trips at Backroads, but to lead a great life. We were working together when locals decided to strike over water issues and blockade a key route. As you can well imagine, this created real logistical challenges on our trip--but what better way to truly experience local culture? Kenny smiled, laughed and navigated the situation gracefully, leaving us all feeling more connected to local issues than we ever could have on a perfectly smooth itinerary.
It's no wonder that he's been chosen year after year as a key member of Backroads' Hiring and Training team. A talent like his can't be taught, and yet he so perfectly exemplifies the Backroads joie-de-vivre, lust for life and can-do attitude that one can only hope a bit of it will rub off through time spent in his presence. He exhibits unparalleled patience. He has a passion for learning and for inciting curiosity--spend a moment in his presence and his training as a teacher will shine through.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a single Backroads leader whose life and career has not been positively influenced in at least some small way by Kenny Brushett.
If you've had the good fortune to travel alongside him, you'll know that he has the answer to just about everything. And he doesn't just know a place, he falls in love with everywhere he goes and leaves a lasting impression. He hasn't led in Peru in years, yet our local partners still chuckle and smile as they mention his name, recall a funny incident and ask if I've seen Kenny recently. He's the type that leaves a mark on your heart. You're most likely to find him leading a safari by bike in South Africa. Or highlighting the magic of his home turf in the Canadian Rockies. Or perhaps you'll see him digging up galangal and lemongrass in one of Calgary's Asian supermarkets. Wherever you run into him, I can guarantee that you'll note the sparkle in his eye and he'll leave you with a laugh.
And the man knows how to live well. If you'd like to sip the best wine in a region, partake of Peru's most delicious ceviche or capture a perfect sunrise, Kenny's the one who will make it happen for you. The man's got an eye for beauty. Backroads has been buying his gorgeous photographs for years to adorn our catalogs.
How he finds spare time to run a thriving Thai cooking business (Thai Cooking With Kenny) from his home in Calgary absolutely escapes me. Having fallen in love with the tastes of Thailand, Kenny created a way to share it, which is what he does with everything he loves. He gathers groups of the culinary-curious in their own homes and chops and flavors alongside them as they create authentic Asian feasts to share over great conversation with friends. Kenny's Thai cooking company radiates with the same sparkle that he does.
You'd never know that he deals with chronic back pain on a daily basis. This is the part that blows me away. What I take from my time with Kenny Brushett is that you really never know what's going on behind somebody's smile.
When I think of Kenny, I remember to live every day to its fullest. As Walt Whitman said, "Keep your face always toward the sunshine--and shadows will fall behind you." Shadows fall behind Kenny Brushett. I recommend you spend some time in the sunny rays of his presence.