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Nahm took top honours at the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in Singapore. Aside from being named The S.Pellegrino Asia’s Best Restaurant, it also earned the title of The S. Pellegrino Best Restaurant in Thailand. Chef David Thompson


Congratulations on your win. With Nahm at No.1 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, a lot of attention will be placed on the Thai food scene. What changes can we expect to see there in 2014?


There is more talent moving into the region, not just expat talent but local talent. Chefs are becoming a lot younger and that’s encouraging more creativity. The next generation is doing some fabulous things. Those kids are really thinking about food in a far more serious way than ever before.


Bangkok is becoming a great city for restaurants. I think in the next five years, Bangkok will be on the world map when it comes to its restaurants. Everyone knows about its food, but I think its restaurants will share some of the limelight.


More and more Asian restaurants are breaking into the World’s 50 Best List. What are your thoughts on this and do you think we will ever see an Asian restaurant or a restaurant from Asia at the top of the list?


I can’t say how close we are from achieving a No.1 spot, but increasingly as Asia becomes the centre of the economic world, all the luxurious accoutrements that are attached to that sort of financial success will come over here, including restaurants. In Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, it’s always had a good food culture, but not necessarily a good restaurant culture. Bangkok is going through an explosion now. In the next five or 10 years Bangkok will really blossom because there are a lot of exciting, interesting and world-class concepts emerging.


What issues do you think will dominate culinary conversations in 2014?  I think the provenance of ingredients will become a focus. When I was cooking Thai food in Australia many years ago, there was a wealth of [locally produced] Thai ingredients and I thought they were wonderful. But when I started cooking and tasting ingredients that were grown in Thailand, it made me aware of the importance of the soil and the environment. Even if you have the same varieties of fruits and vegetables, they taste different from one country to the next.


You have a new restaurant, Long Chim, opening in Marina Bay Resorts, Singapore. What else do you have planned for 2014? I do a lot of research into old Thai recipes and try to excavate or exhume them to bring them back to life. In Thai cooking, there’s a vast repertoire and I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface. I’ll just continue to discover.


If someone said ‘I don’t like cooking, not one bit’, how would you convince them otherwise? I wouldn’t be bothered to convince them. You either love it or you don’t. I go through stages like anybody; this career is like being married – but to a kitchen. I can entirely sympathize with someone who doesn’t like cooking. At other times I can’t imagine anything more alien, but each to their own.


If you could only eat one thing in your life, what would it be? I don’t think I could limit it to just one. I adore chocolate, I will get out of my grave for durian, crusty bread warms my soul and I love the smelliest of blue cheeses you find in France.

Paul Calder

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