Samui Wining & Dining
Kitchen Queen
September’s ‘Chef of The Month’ is Khun Kanchana at The Beach Club @ Buri Rasa.

 

Kitchen QueenOne of Thailand’s most respected chefs has recently been invited to Samui to help launch The Beach Club @ Buri Rasa. Khun Kanchana (better known by her nickname Tim) and is a chef, restaurateur, consultant and culinary school instructor. We recently caught up with her on the beach at Buri Rasa resort in the middle of Chaweng.

 

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

Tim: I was born and brought up in Bangkok and my love of cooking and food really started at a young age. My mum was a wonderful cook, really extraordinary, and had an incredible passion for cooking. I was always in the kitchen helping out and learned about the subtle, delicate flavours, textures and aromas of old family recipes at her side. She taught me what to look for at the markets and how to appreciate the different kinds of fruits, vegetables and herbs that were available at different times of the year. That basic understanding of raw products is the foundation to creating every dish. You can’t hope that something is ripe or ready to use, you have to know for certain and you can tell by looking, by smelling, by feeling, by tasting and by building a strong relationship with your suppliers. When everything is perfect you tell them and thank them. When it’s not, you tell them and thank them for replacing it and not letting it happen again.

 

JP: Tell us about your restaurants?

Tim: About 20 years ago my husband, three young sons and I decided to move to Chiang Mai in the very north of Thailand. Four years later, we opened the first ‘W by Wanlamun’ there and then another in the city and one in Bangkok around three years ago. In between, we also opened the ‘Kao Hom Thai Culinary Cooking School’.

The cuisine there is very much based on the Central Thai style of dishes that I grew up with and have cooked all of my life. All three of my sons went to university which I’m very proud of. One is an engineer; another is a chef in the business and very much an integral part of the operation. And my other son studied in Paris, France and has a Masters Degree in Fashion, Luxury and the Art of Living. He also trained as a pâtissier and we’ve incorporated his skills, knowledge and concepts into the business. People come from far and wide for our irresistible French pastries and desserts.

 

JP: How did the connection with Buri Rasa come about?

Tim: Both the owner and the general manager of the resort had decided to launch a new restaurant concept, The Beach Club @ Buri Rasa. They’d been all around

 

JP: What were your first impressions of Samui?

Tim: I’d never been before and it’s very different to Chiang Mai; certainly hotter and more humid. But I love the beachside setting and the fact that I spend every day there looking out onto the ocean; it’s both calming and inspiring. The resort is perfectly positioned, not just for visitors but also for me and the chefs. Laem Din and Dow Seafood markets are just a few minutes away and they are my first ports of call every morning. It’s ideal having really fresh ingredients almost on your doorstep; that’s where the menu really begins – at the markets.

 

JP: Tell us about the Thai cuisine you’ve introduced.

Tim: We’ve designed the menu to give both a comprehensive range of choices to our guests and great value for money. There’s no service charge or VAT added to the bills; we feel that those are our issues to deal with and not the customers’. There’re three set dinners that range from 350-550 baht; an à la carte section with 14 dishes from my restaurants; and we have a covered outdoor barbecue and grill station by the beach so we’ve put together three seafood barbecue sets (from 450 baht) and an à la carte section. Whatever the chefs and I particularly like at the market that day will be on the chalkboard but typically we’ll have lobster, oysters, tiger prawns, calamari, mussels, snapper, salmon, crab, tuna and barracuda.

 

JP: You’ve also introduced three theme night menus, tell us about them.

Tim: Yes we have three ‘all you can eat’ buffet and barbecue evenings from 6:30 pm and booking a table in advance is very advisable. On Tuesdays we have a Californian Cuisine and Fresh Seafood night (600 baht); Thursdays are Authentic Thai Cuisine (500 baht) and on Saturdays we have The Grand Beach Club Night with Thai and Californian cuisines and fresh fish on the barbecue (600 baht).

 

JP: And there’s live music every night?

Tim: Yes, from 6:30 pm each evening we have live music on the beach. Everything from the guitarist Chris Fretwell to the La Luna Duo, The Nightingales (band) and on Saturdays the fabulous all-girl group The Right Track. Many of our guests come early and enjoy the sunset as we have happy hours from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm at the beach bar every night. It’s a very relaxed and fun atmosphere that the whole family can enjoy.

 

JP: Finally, Chef, you clearly don’t get much time to relax here, do you get some time to yourself when you fly back home?

Tim: Absolutely not! For one, I like to get back into the restaurants and the cooking school. And my boys – well they’re grown men now and they all know how to cook very well – keep calling and asking when I’ll be home. They still like their mum to cook for them, I think all boys do.

 

Johnny Paterson

 


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