Samui Wining & Dining
Kitchen King

July’s ‘Chef of The Month’ is Khun Kittichai Sroythong at Nora Beach Resort & Spa.

 

Kitchen KingOur spotlight this month falls on a man who’s no stranger to Samui. A chef for 15 years, Khun Kittichai Sroythong, or Khun M as he’s better known, has been on the island since 2005. And just recently he joined the team at the prestigious Nora Beach Resort & Spa on the northern end of Chaweng beach as Executive Chef. We caught up with him to find out more about the man and his culinary aspirations.

 

JP: Can you tell us about your background please?

KS: I was born and raised in Bangkok and had a pretty normal childhood. The only different interest I had from my friends was cooking. My dad was a chef and from an early age I learned all about Thai cuisine from him. I always knew that I would follow in his footsteps and he has been a great inspiration to me throughout my career.

 

JP: How did your professional career begin and how has it developed?

KS: My first job was at the Ambassador Hotel in Bangkok. It’s a wonderful place for a young chef to start in, although it can be daunting. There’re 760 rooms and suites, International, Thai and Chinese restaurants and extensive conference and banqueting facilities. You begin as the most junior chef in a huge brigade but if you’re determined you can learn a great deal. I spent several years there moving up to commis chef before taking a position at the Century Park Hotel as demi-chef and later I went to The Emerald Hotel as Chef de Partie. It’s usual in this industry to move a number of times to gain experience and to keep challenging yourself. After nine years in the capital I decided to move to Samui. I spent a short time at the Laem Set Inn and then I joined the Impiana Resort & Spa as sous chef before being promoted to the top job. And before joining the Nora Group I was the Executive Chef at the New Star Resort in Chaweng Noi for just over a year.

 

JP: What were your first impressions of Samui as an island and in terms of culinary standards when you first came here and what do you think now?

KS: As a city boy I just loved the open spaces and being surrounded by the sea. And as the kitchens and restaurants in the resorts here are on the beach it’s very refreshing to take in that view every day. In a big city hotel you rarely get to see daylight, never mind the ocean! There’s also a much different atmosphere in the restaurants. In Bangkok, we catered to lots of business people who didn’t want to dally too long. Here, everyone’s on holiday and, in part, they’ve come to savour the cuisine and take their time dining. They’re much more interested in what you cook and who you are and love taking part in cooking classes and theme nights. There’s also a large number of very experienced Thai and Western chefs here who continue to raise the culinary bar so you always have to be on your toes and be creative if you want to be one of the best.

 

JP: Why did you accept the position at Nora Beach Resort and what do you want to achieve?

KS: Prasuthon Restaurant at Nora Beach has had an excellent reputation for a number of years and it’s a place I could hit the ground running as it has a well established brigade in the kitchen. In time, I’ll introduce new concepts and signature dishes but my first priorities are to at least maintain the current standards, develop the team and allow them to learn about me and my ambitions for the restaurant. No matter how long you’ve been a chef there’re always new things to learn both professionally and personally. When you stop striving to improve, even if it’s just by a tiny amount, then it’s time to hang up your apron and do something else.

 

JP: Tell us a little about Nora Beach and Prasuthon.

KS: The resort has 113 rooms, villas, pool villas and suites on a spectacular hillside that runs down to the quiet northern beach of Chaweng. It’s secluded with beautiful gardens and feels more like a village than a resort. This one was the first of the four Nora hotels and resorts on the island and the Nora Group is a fantastic forward-thinking company which is another reason I joined them. The resort attracts guests from all around the world and in Prasuthon we serve regional Thai dishes, Royal Thai inspired cuisine, international favourites and fusion dishes that bring together Eastern and Western ingredients and cooking techniques. We also host nightly themed events on the beach, have live entertainment and dance shows and, of course, weekly cooking classes.

 

JP: Can you give us a couple of recommendations from your menu please?

KS: I enjoy so many different dishes but if there’re two of you, you might like to try as appetizers the crab stick and minced shrimp spring roll with wasabi mayonnaise, and the rolled smoked salmon with avocado and honey mustard. For main courses, I’d suggest the pan-fried white snapper and spinach with a light green curry sauce, and the poached tiger prawns with orange jus. And to round the meal off I’d recommend the sushi of sticky rice with sweet mango and the white chocolate panna cotta.

 

JP: Finally, Chef, what advice would you give to a young commis chef who aspires to head up a kitchen somewhere like Prasuthon restaurant one day?

KS: To begin with, you really must be passionate about food, have a burning desire to learn all you can and be prepared to work long and hard your whole career. You also have to develop man-management skills and understand what leading and being a part of a team means in reality. And taste your food or you’ll never know if it’s perfect or not.

 

Johnny Paterson

 


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