A new wave of Thai cuisine is emerging, led by a band of young maverick chefs who are out to prove that Thai cuisine isn’t just street food or royal cuisine. These are chefs challenging the Euro-centric notions of fine dining that many in Thailand have, by bringing to fore the spicy, bold flavours of traditional Thai cuisine, while refining dishes using modern techniques and plating. We got two of them to discuss the ins-and-outs of this nascent scene: Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn, and Napol “Joe” Jantraget.
The 31-year-old Ton opened modern Thai restaurant Le Du in 2014, after graduating from Culinary Institute of America in New York. Having cooked in the acclaimed kitchens of Eleven Madison Park, The Modern and Jean Georges, he is reinventing and refining Thai cuisine at Le Du, where you’ll find local ingredients and dishes manipulated and deconstructed in a fine dining setting. Ton also celebrates traditional Thai recipes at Restaurant Baan. Meanwhile, at the hyperlocal Bangkok restaurant 80/20, 80 percent of all the ingredients Napol “Joe” Jantraget uses are local, including foraged herbs, vegetables, seafood, and even the spirits that go into the cocktails. The 33-year-old sources these from all across the country, which go into a mercurial menu of Thai-inspired flavours.
Watch the two discuss the evolution of the Thai cuisine here: