Here’s why Thailand’s newfound moniker as the new gourmet capital of the world is well deserved!
By Percy Roxas.
No doubt about it, Thailand’s influence on the region’s culinary scene is growing. Not only has Thai food been continuing its upward ascent as one of the world’s favorite cuisines but also several of the city’s top restaurants are being recognized among the world’s best, and in fact Gaggan Anand’s eponymous restaurant has claimed the No. 1 spot two years running (2015 and 2016) in the regional Best 50 Restaurants awards.
In the words of William Drew, group editor of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, says: “In recent years, the country’s vibrant restaurant scene has matured, welcoming world-class establishments serving a variety of international cuisines. Thailand is fast establishing itself as one of Asia’s key gastronomic hubs…”
Indeed, the kingdom has always attracted many of the world’s top chefs, either as guest chefs in fine-dining events that are now regular year-round occurrences city, and more so of late. Many are coming to make the kingdom their home, or at least to open a branch of their outstanding, award-winning restaurant chains. You don’t have to really dig deep to see that international culinary superstars such as Joel D”Robuchon, Jean-Michel Lorain, Morimoto, among the many top chefs who are now common names among discerning Bangkok foodies. And more are coming: even celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is opening his restaurant in Bangkok in November.
And as the high season of tourism begins, we are seeing an almost non-stop arrival of top chefs from all over the world. These two months (September and October) alone, the Bangkok culinary calendar sees a hectic schedule of superstar international chefs coming over to give Bangkokians a taste, literally, of their Michelin-awarded excellence.
Arguably the biggest culinary event showcasing these world-class chefs this month is the “World Gourmet Festival (WGF)” at the Anantara Siam Bangkok (see separate story on this issue), a weeklong event that showcases some of the best in the field of food and wine. But WGF is not the only one. Other top-seed hotels and establishments are holding their own fine dining extravaganzas, making the last quarter of the year a true-blue season for foodies in Bangkok.
11 Michelin Stars at ‘So Amazing Chefs’: Nov 11 to 18
For the 5th edition of “SO Amazing Chefs,” SO Sofitel Bangkok is breaking out the silverware from Nov. 11 to 18 with a stellar gastronomic lineup ever to gather at the hotel, representing a total of 16 chefs and 11 Michelin stars. The eight-day program includes seven themed degustation dinners, two weekend brunches, six once-in-a-lifetime cooking classes hosted by the chefs themselves, and a selection of other culinary events including a ceramic BBQ demonstration and a cheese tasting.
Seven chefs are making their debut at the culinary extravaganza: Bruno Dinel (Maître Boulanger-owner of Le Bistrot du Boulanger in Strasbourg, a Bib Gourmand 2016 recipient); Leonard Elenbaas, chef-owner of Pure Passie in the Netherlands; Michael Dyllong, head chef of Palmgarden restaurant (1 Michelin star) in Dortmund; Patrice Marchand, co-owner of one of the oldest family-run dairy producers in France dating to 1880; Paul Liebrandt, former chef and co-owner of the 2 Michelin-starred Corton in New York; Thierry Drapeau, chef and co-owner of Thierry Drapeau Logis de Chabotterie restaurant (2 Michelin stars) in Saint-Sulpice-le-Verdon, France; and Jean-Baptiste Natali, chef-owner of the 1 Michelin-starred Restaurant Natali – Hostellerie La Montagne in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, France.
They will be joining nine returning chefs: Alain Caron (Amsterdam), Didier Corlou (Hanoi), Ferry van Houten (Amsterdam), Hervé Rodriguez (Paris), Jacques Pourcel (Montpellier), Laurent Peugeot (Burgundy), Patrick Jeffroy (Brittany), Paul Smart (Bangkok), and Stéphane Bonnat (Voiron). Completing the culinary line-up are six additional chefs from SO Sofitel Bangkok, Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra, and Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi.
For more information and reservations, call 02 624 0000 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dinner with the Stars: Oct 25
On Oct. 25, a gastronomic journey across the senses is waiting for foodies at The Oriental Residence Bangkok as six of Europe’s finest chefs prepare creations that have earned them a total of 10 Michelin stars. In the first event of its kind in Thailand, six Michelin starred chefs from the Netherlands invites all foodies to discover the unique signature dishes of their cuisine, which have made them a household name in their native land.
The event is hosted by Chef Henk Savelberg and Restaurant Savelberg Thailand, and promises an elegant evening of superlative cuisine and fine wines in the plush new ballroom of the Oriental Residence. More than a mere dinner, the evening will be an exclusive experience encompassing an art exhibition by Lotus Arts de Vivre, Thailand’s preeminent jewelry and objet d’art house, welcoming diners with a pre-dinner cocktail reception and rousing palates for the multi course banquet ahead.
All participating chefs at the event are members of Les Patrons Cuisiniers and each hold 1-3 Michelin Stars. They are Henk Savelberg, one of the founders of Les Patrons Cuisiniers, and the only Dutch head chef, up until now, to have been awarded a Michelin star in four different restaurants in the Netherlands.
Henk is joined by Cees Helder, the former restaurant owner of Parkheuvelin Rotterdam, and the first Head Chef in the Netherlands to acquire three Michelin stars; Martin Kruithofis, head chef of the Lindenhofin the Dutch city Giethoorn, which has been at the top of the list of the best restaurants in Holland for years and has been awarded by the GaultMillauGuide 18 out of 20 points since 2005; Jarno Eggen, head chef of De GroeneLantaarna fine dining restaurant in Zuidwoldein, which was awarded one Michelin star from 2011 to 2015 and received a second star in 2016; Raymond Prinsen, who took over as head chef of De StenenTafel, a restaurant located in Borculo, in 1994 (awarded one Michelin star from 1999 to 2011); and Wilco Berends, head chef of De Nederlanden, a restaurant and hotel, located in a monumental building on one of the most picturesque sites of the Netherlands in Vreeland aande Vecht.A fine dining restaurant, the establishment was awarded one Michelin star in the years 1958 and 1959 and one or two Michelin stars in the period 1999 to present.
The six chefs will jointly present a 6-course menu priced at THB 9999++ inclusive of beverages.
For more information and reservations, please contact: Tel 02 125 9000; www.oriental-residence.com
Gastronomical Getaway: Oct 28 to 29
After the “Dinner with Stars” in Bangkok, the six Michelin-starred chefs from Netherlands will be in Koh Kood, one of Thailand’s most unspoiled islands, to create a spectacular dining event at the Soneva Kiri. Culinary aficionados are invited to indulge in an extraordinary two-night getaway that blends the beauty of nature with the luxury of world-class cuisine. They can sit down to an intimate six-course dinner prepared by the six chefs – who have 10 Michelin stars between them — and explore the elaborate art of gastronomy paired with breathtaking views of the Gulf of Siam. The event is priced at THB 105,000++, inclusive of a two-night stay (Oct. 28-29) at the luxurious Soneva Kiri, a six-course dinner, daily half board, spa treatments for two at the resort’s Six Senses Spa, and return private plane transfers from Bangkok to Koh Kood.
For more information and reservations, contact: Tel: 082 208 8888; www.soneva.com/soneva-kiri
Ciccio Sultano @ Jojo on Sep 27-Oct 1
Two-star Michelin chef, Ciccio Sultano, arrives at Jojo, The St. Regis Bangkok before the end of the month. Chef Ciccio, owner and executive chef of Duomo Restaurant in Sicily, will present a Sicilian-inspired menu.
Chef Ciccio’s philosophy is based on continuous research on the deep-rooted culinary traditions in ancient Sicilian cuisine. He is particularly interested in the cuisine from Ragusa Ibla, the oldest and most magnificent part of the city. To him, research is fundamental. In addition, he applies the most advanced techniques and technology modern cuisine can offer. For his guest stint at Jojo, Chef Ciccio will present a 9-course degustation menu for lunch and dinner.
For more details of the event such as the cost, or to make a reservation, call 02 207 7777 or email: email@example.com
David Tamburini @ La Scala
Meanwhile, La Scala Restaurant at The Sukhothai Bangkok recently welcome David Tamburini from Tuscany, twice awarded Michelin stars, as their new Italian Chef. Following his recent position as executive chef at Giando Italian Restaurant, Hong Kong, David’s passion for food, its preparation and cooking, combined with his continuing strong interest in Asia led him to Thailand. Creative flair, a combination of traditional Italian recipes and his own renowned creations will form the basis of David’s menu at La Scala. Bringing with him the different components and traditions of southern Italy, David is introducing at La Scala, a unique selection of seven special dishes that include appetizers, pasta, risotto, main dishes and dessert. Each dish follows chef’s secret recipes, exclusively applied with special techniques that ensure enticing presentation and irresistible, delectable taste.
For more information and reservations, contact: Tel: 02 344 8888; www.sukhothai.com
Top Chefs on Koh Samui
Nor are the gastronomical events limited to Bangkok. Koh Samui’s most prestigious villa estate, Samujana, this month will be showcasing the four finest restaurants on the island by welcoming each of their head chefs to host a series of backyard BBQ pop-ups. The backyard BBQs will provide an authentic island restaurant experience and an eclectic mix of gastronomy from Samui’s most sought-after culinary talents, such as Executive Chef Martin Selby, who together with F&B aficionado Damian Ahern opened The Larder in Koh Samui in 2012; Chef Francois of Chez Fancois, who brings mind-blowing French meals to island; Chef Marco Boscaini, who introduced Koh Samui visitors and locals to Prego, an upscale dining experience with a quality Italian menu using the finest imported ingredients brought from in and around his homeland; and Chef David Lloyd of Toast, who trained in several Michelin Star establishments before moving to Koh Samui to start the island’s premier wedding and events catering operation. Samujana Backyard BBQ’s will take place every last Sunday of each month.
For more information, visit www.samujana.com
Other similar gastronomical extravaganzas that prove Thailand is the new place to be for gourmet and gastronomy are happening or being planned this and the coming months in other major tourist destinations such as Phuket, Chiang Mai, Krabi, and Pattaya!
Oh, as we go to press, we heard about Shangri-La International’s “Festival of Gastronomy” chefs including Bangkok in their culinary extravaganza soon too!