Samui Wining & Dining
Kitchen King

Rocky’s Executive Sous Chef, Khun Samrit Junput,
has risen through ranks at some of Samui’s very best restaurants.

 

Kitchen KingThis month, our spotlight falls upon Executive Sous Chef, Samrit Junput, better known to his friends simply as Rit. He’s the most senior Thai chef at Rocky’s Resort in Lamai and the right hand of award-winning Executive Chef, Azizskandar Awang. We spent an afternoon with him to find out more about the man and his approach to cooking.

 

JP: Hi Chef, can you tell us about your background please?

SJ: I was born and brought up in Trang province in the south of Thailand. Its coastline is on the Andaman Sea. As a child growing up, I spent my time during the school holidays at my family’s restaurant on the island Phi Phi Don just off the coast of Phuket and that’s where my love of cooking stems from. It’s a popular island for tourists and I knew as I got older that I wanted to learn as much about European styles of food as I did about regional Thai cuisine.

 

JP: Why did you choose to develop your craft on Samui?

SJ: Samui has an outstanding reputation for top-class restaurants and for having a very competitive culinary environment. There’s also a number of fantastic international chefs working here and I wanted to learn from them. Before joining the team at Rocky’s I worked at Poppies, Chaweng Regent, Sareeraya Resort and Karma Samui. And I’ve been lucky enough to have worked alongside highly experienced French, Italian, German, American and Malaysian executive chefs and I’ve learned a great deal from each one. I’ve also worked with some excellent Thai chefs along the way and discovered a lot more about the huge variety of dishes that my home country has to offer.

 

JP: Tell us about the resort and the restaurants at Rocky’s.

SJ: The resort has 50 bungalows and private pool-villas spread around beautiful gardens that lead down to a secluded beach. Our fine-dining restaurant, The Dining Room, sits on top of a huge granite boulder overlooking the beach and focuses on French-Mediterranean cuisine. Beside the garden pool, our casual, modern-dining The Bistro serves Italian, French and Thai dishes as well as a large selection of seafood and steaks from the grill and has an open show kitchen whereby guests can see exactly how we prepare their food. We also host regular beach barbecues, themed events and cocktail evenings and are one of the most popular venues on the island for weddings. In addition, we have a separate banqueting room and a private sala on the beach for romantic dinners for two. And we’re very happy to tailor-make special menus for our guests and run cooking classes for those who want to learn a bit more about Thai cuisine. In total we have 24 chefs and six stewards in the kitchen brigade.

 

JP: Can you make some recommendations for us from The Bistro menu please?

SJ: If it’s Thai food you’re in the mood for I’d suggest the phad thod which is crispy duck leg with tamarind and black bean sauce served with stir-fried bok choy. And also the poo nim phad kratiem prik Thai which is stir-fried soft-shell crab with garlic and pepper sauce. From the grill we have some wonderful sea bass, mackerel, giant prawns, salmon and Australian beef.

 

JP: And some recommendations from The Dining Room please?

SJ: There’s so much to choose from and our guests often spend quite some time browsing through the menu before choosing. As such, we’ve compiled five- and seven-course tasting menus and I’d definitely recommend them; the latter is 1,650 baht per person and includes:

 

7 Course Chef Tasting Menu

 

Amuse bouche of the day

 

Foie gras au torchon, strawberry, micro greens and aged balsamic

 

Lobster consommé, seafood ravioli, garden tarragon

 

Caramelized scallop with pumpkin puree, capers, raisin and kalamata olive salsa

 

Snow fish with lemon-roasted garden vegetables, vanilla pod emulsion

 

Palate cleanser

 

Grain-fed Australian tenderloin cooked sous vide, confit bayaldi and port wine sauce

 

Pave of Callebaut dark chocolate cake with white chocolate ice-cream, crème Anglaise and raspberry coulis

 

JP: What’s a typical day like for you?

SJ: Aside from cooking, there’s a great deal that needs to be done behind the scenes to manage two busy restaurants and a large team. Health, hygiene and cleanliness checks take place several times a day, plus there’s always office paperwork to complete and orders to be placed. As you can imagine, we receive a huge amount of fresh produce every day and it all needs to be checked and allocated to the correct fridges and storage areas. With the executive chef I’ll go over coming events, plan training schedules for the team and we like to spend some time experimenting with new creations. Being a chef isn’t for someone who likes to sit down and have a slow pace to their working day.

 

JP: What advice would you give to a young chef who wants to be in your position one day?

SJ: You really have to be truly passionate about food and be determined to work hard and learn. Try and get a job at a reputable restaurant where you’ll be exposed to different styles of national and international cuisines. And find out all you can about each and every ingredient you work with, where it comes from, when it’s in season and, most importantly, what it tastes like.

 

JP: Finally, Chef, when you get the time, how do you relax away from work?

SJ: I enjoy spending time with my family. And going out and having someone else cook for me is always a pleasure.

 

Johnny Paterson

 


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