The Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok welcomes chefs, winemakers, and food experts from around the globe for a celebration of great cuisine and wine from September 1 to 7.
by Coco Lavender
Bangkok will become once again a melting pot for world cuisine, when seven master chefs from six different countries take part in the World Gourmet Festival, a seven-day celebration that will take place from September 1 to 7, at the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok.
Once again this year, the festival supports HRH Princess Soamsawali’s “Save A Child’s Life from AIDS” project, under the auspices of the Thai Red Cross Society. THB 600 from the price of every World Gourmet dinner ticket, as well as proceeds from the World Gourmet live auction, will be donated to this charity.
More information: www.fourseasons.com
Chef Akrame Benallal (A.B.) from two Michelin-starred Akrame (www.akrame.com), Paris, France
Chef Paolo Casagrande (P.C.) from two Michelin-starred Lasarte Restaurante (www.restaurantlasarte.com/en), Barcelona, Spain
Chef Thierry Dufroux (T.D.) from Bistrot Belhara (www.bistrotbelhara.com), Paris, France
Chef João Rodrigues (J.R.) from one Michelin-starred Feitoria (www.altishotels.com/EN/HotelAltisBelem/Feitoria-Restaurant) Lisbon, Portugal
Chef Hideaki Sato (H.S.) from two Michelin-starred Tenku RyuGin (www.ryugin.com.hk/index_e.php), Hong Kong, which this year made it on to the coveted San Pellegrino list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants
Chef James Syhabout (J.S.) from one Michelin-starred Commis (www.commisrestaurant.com), Oakland, California, USA
Chef James Viles (J.V.) from two-hatted Biota Dining (www.biotadining.com), Bowral, NSW, Australia
What the Chefs Have to Say
— What are you the most excited about with regards to participating in this year’s World Gourmet Festival?
A.B.: The project itself. What really motivates me is its charitable purpose. I like taking the time and giving time to causes that are worth it.
P.C.: I’m really excited about joining the festival because it joins charity and gastronomy together. I like to help support such events.
T.D.: It is a great honor for me to be chosen to represent French gastronomy at this year’s World Gourmet Festival. I am particularly thrilled to spend a week in Bangkok and discover new products in its floating markets.
J.R.: To visit this beautiful country, learn about the culture, to be part of the event itself, and to meet other chefs.
H.S.: I respect Thai culture, food and people. And I’m most excited to have this opportunity to share the Ryugin experience with Thai people.
J.S.: I am just very thrilled to be cooking “back home” after 20 years since my last visit to Thailand.
J.V.: It is a wonderful initiative that we are honored to be involved in. I am excited about using the abundance of fresh botanics available in Thailand, and about seeing and using new ingredients.
— What is the one dish you’ll be preparing that visitors to the festival shouldn’t miss?
A.B.: The bamboo charcoal pineapple.
P.C.: The egg. It’s a really simple plate, with simple ingredients, but always surprising in my restaurant.
J.R.: Scarlet shrimp from the Algarve with cucumber and nasturtium.
H.S.: “Peach Candy” because if a chef’s recommended dish comes last, customers can keep their expectations until the end of the meal!
J.S.: I love egg dishes. We are going to do an egg with potato and sweet and savory spices.
J.V.: One of the dishes we will be making is a dish based on smoke, local fish roe, and lettuce.
— Describe your cooking philosophy.
A.B.: My cooking is very personal, it has its own identity, it’s instinct-driven and with a lot of feelings.
P.C.: My philosophy in the kitchen is working and searching all the time for the best product and, when you get, respect it. Another really important part is teamwork—your team supports you and shares all that happens and all that you create in the kitchen.
T.D.: I love simple cooking based on quality products, perfect cooking time, and good seasoning. The nature of the product, its color, taste, and texture should be enhanced, and I see my role as a magnifier.
J.R.: I like to use local products from small producers, everything organic, and a strong Portuguese cultural influence with a twist. My cuisine is all very natural in order to keep the flavors the most authentic as possible.
H.S.: Pure, simple, and seasonal—these three words describe my cuisine best, and Japanese cuisine as well. I always try to bring out the pure taste, so I choose simple ways of cooking and presentation.
J.S.: Naturalistic and minimal, with a focus on concentrating and extracting natural flavors and aromas.
J.V.: We rely on Mother Nature to guide us in what we do and how we think; our food is inspired by nature and tells a story of connection.
— Are there any key ingredients you’ll be focusing on for this year’s festival?
A.B.: No, my menu will be full of surprises…
P.C.: Iberian presa. I will come from Spain and I feel I have to showcase a product like this.
J.R.: For sure, the fish and the seafood.
H.S.: Japanese vegetables and fruits. Of course, Japan is famous for its seafood, but vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplant, and sweet corn are of very high quality. In this event, I use Japanese peaches that have such a nice fragrance.
J.S.: I am going to try to use a lot of the native ingredients in Thailand as that is a part of who I am and where I am cooking at the event, but these will be presented in the way we cook at Commis.
J.V.: We will be focusing on the local ingredients of Thailand. I want to maintain our philosophy of using ingredients native to their lands.
— What do you never travel without?
A.B.: My mobile phone, and my cooking pliers to dress up plates.
P.C.: I’m always traveling with open eyes, to learn what I try and see around the world, recipes, ingredients, traditions, etc.
T.D.: I always slip piment d’Espelette and a pala racquet into my luggage. The first to spice up my dishes, and the second to play pelote. Both are symbolic of the Pays Basque, the Southwest region of France, which I am especially fond of.
J.R.: A Moleskine and a pen for taking notes.
H.S.: Nothing in particular. Just experience, technique, and taste.
J.S.: I never travel without flip-flops or sandals. Even if I were to travel to the Netherlands in the winter, for sure you would see a pair of sandals in my luggage.
J.V.: My iPhone, camera, access to email, and connection to the world.