When an adventurous Pennsylvanian filmmaker and Milanese chef come together after a chance encounter in Paris, the end result is GHaus, an interactive map for modern-day digital nomads. We find out how much heart and soul Guglielmo Sartor and Cameron Starr put into cooking up a travel storm.
“Life is the one story we have to tell, and we’re going to make it a good one.”
Founded in June 2015 by Guglielmo Sartor, Cameron Starr, and their friends, GHaus is an interactive map made for modern travellers who want to make use of technology without sacrificing their adventurous side. Travellers can use the map to share experiences and track their journeys across the globe. The more the map is used, the more expansive it becomes, and the more opportunities for explorers to connect and collaborate on the go.
We caught up with the pioneering duo at The Working Capitol when they travelled from Milan to Singapore to put the app to the test. As they collect recipes and stories while travelling, they prove that good food and off the beaten track adventures are the fuel for humanity.
Doyenne: Why are both of you in this together?
Guglielmo: We met in Paris a few years ago, found common interests and decided to put together the GHaus map. We needed a way to build a community, and pioneer and populate it. We decided to go on an adventure and collect all the information we could and put it on the map.
Cameron: Life is the one story we have to tell, and we’re going to make it a good one. This is something that is lost as we move faster and lose touch with where we are going. The more efficient we become, the less likely we are to do something new – so we take it slow in order to create, explore, discover, and draw our own path so others can do the same too.
“We don’t consume big spaces, hotels and major tourist spots. We find a way to get to the heart of a place and learn about it.”
D: How does adventurous travelling feel like?
G: Addictive. We spent eight months on the road when we could have given up so many times. But we kept going because people pushed us forward. We enter the heart and space of people during our travels with our format of cooking and collecting stories. We don’t consume big spaces, hotels and major tourist spots – we find a way to get to the heart of a place and learn about it.
C: Alright, Mr. Addict! For me, it is a sustainable way to constantly change and not lose myself along the way. The fact that we are travelling with a mission makes us conscious that we don’t just roll the money in, pay for things and move on.
It is entering a place with something to offer, and the place gives something back to you. Then it escalates to the point where everyone around you is using their energy to create a new experience.
We had a big culture shock in Hanoi. There were many westerners and so much was catered to them. We came all the way to get away from that and here it was again!
That freaked us out and we decided that the best way would be to find an abandoned beach and just live there. We finally found this beautiful island but it was completely covered in trash.
After cleaning it up, we made friends who didn’t speak English, and found the best of humanity on this little island. Everything got capped off when the police removed us. It was one of the most real experiences as people were giving us so much. They were beating us at our own game! It was pretty cool compared to flying around just for the sake of it.
D: How did you approach adventure travel before starting GHaus?
G: I’ve been a boy scout for 10 years so I already did a lot of adventuring. At 22 years old, I decided to bike from London to Milan for 22 days, armed with my tent and cooking stove. Everyday it was a different place to sleep and work. The travelling itself made me grow – I felt fantastic!
C: I started travelling at a young age. When I was in my mother’s belly, she was hiking in Scotland. She has always inspired me since the beginning. I would generally go to the mountains with my family, so that sowed the seed in me.
D: Tell us more about building a community on the road.
C: It’s great but unexpected. We’ve met hundreds of people, collaborated, and fed them. We spent the first couple of weeks in Italy and by the second stop, we stepped into this medieval village at midnight and walked into the unknown without knowing anybody. By the end of the night, we knew half the town!
People seem to always reciprocate. No matter where you are, there’s always a magnetic connection because you’re putting yourself out there. People want to help, especially when they know you’re not from there. So we’ve stayed in touch with many people we met, and hopefully this forms the foundation of the GHaus community.
G: It is necessary to create synergy between people and GHaus. It takes time to feed someone or try to enter their space. We go through many tests to capture awesome stories. Our interviews don’t work in a way where we put the camera in front of the person for a story. We try and reach their core and get answers, step by step. Then we start preparing the table to cook something.
C: The key is putting all this energy into cooking for people, and they take us to a place close to their hearts. Space, time, and movement are what bind us together. It’s pretty cool.
D: What kind of awesome stories have you gathered from travelling?
C: We’ve met people from all over the world who were not natives in those places, and wondered how and why they got there. They went out looking for a place in the world like a passion project. In general, it isn’t just some intangible thing that drew them there.
G: One story was about meeting up with a French guy I met two years ago on a Greek Island. We got in touch again and told him to meet us on that island. One night, Cameron is in a bar and this dude shows up. They talk, not knowing that this was the guy. They did finally realise, and that gentleman took us to the last ancient forest left on the island.
We hiked for two days and collected ingredients along the way. When we arrived at the top of the mountain, we stewed a wonderful piece of goat meat in the dark. He then adopted us for four days and energetically showed us around the island. That was probably one of our best encounters – he was just the perfect character!
“The key is putting all this energy into cooking for people, and they take us to a place close to their hearts. Space, time and movement are what bind us together.”
D: Let’s talk about GHaus’ Pilgrim Cookbook.
G: A pilgrim is someone who roams on the planet for a mission. And this is what we are doing. We decided to start our pilgrimage and take all the time we need to experience the road rather than the destination itself.
That’s what Pilgrim Cookbook is about: roaming around, looking for recipes, and connecting food with stories to create a multimedia cookbook related to the GHaus map. All the missions we’ve had are going to fit into this book, so others will be inspired to do what we did.
D: If you didn’t start GHaus, what would you be doing?
G: I would be married to a fantastic Spanish girl, but she doesn’t exist yet. So I’d be a head chef of a restaurant in Spain.
C: (Laughs) I’d be making films and writing.
D: So life is actually boring if you don’t do your own thing?
G: Life is changing very quickly and statistics are saying that people are bored. We are starting to realise that a lot of people don’t fit in anymore. They are quitting their jobs, doing startups, and leaving giant corporations.
This is why digital nomads are becoming such a big deal now. People want to see the world and they’ll figure out how to do it in the most affordable way – by connecting with someone across the world and doing something together. We have the technologies, so it’d be silly not to.
D: And GHaus is a community for digital nomads?
G: Yeah, it is for people who want to test themselves and learn from anyone around the world or create something new. Technology won’t be the motivation. We want people to be inspired, go out, be enriched by others, and not take life for granted.
D: Did you get any help with starting GHaus?
C: Just our experiences and passion. We had no clue how to do this but relentless trial and error was needed to make it possible. If you’re willing to keep going, it will succeed.
G: The biggest challenge was figuring everything out. We have an idea and a lot of heart but apart from that, we just kept going, tore something down and built new things. Now we know where we are going, so that’s good.
D: Is there anything that scares you?
G: Many things. Failing is one of them, but we have to put it aside or never accomplish anything.
C: You just toss it in the fire and keep going.
“People want to see the world and they’ll figure out how to do it in the most affordable way.”
D: How do we travel the GHaus way?
C: For us, it is using our energies, creativities, and abilities to communicate as a primary resource before using money. Our first resource is to go forth, do what we love, and connect with people.