Samui Wining & Dining
Why Here?
Samui has always been a special place for Buri Rasa resort’s
Food & Beverage Manager, Khun Pradit Polthaisong.

 

Why Here?Khun Pradit Polthaisong is the Food & Beverage Manager at Buri Rasa resort in the middle of Chaweng Beach. He doesn’t look as if he’s old enough to have, but he’s already worked in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years at some of the island’s best known hotels and restaurants. We spent the day with him at The Beach Club @ Buri Rasa restaurant to find out what drew him to Samui and what his life is like in the restaurant business.

 

JP: Tell us about your early life please, Khun Pradit.

PP: I was born and raised in Nong Khai in the north-east of Thailand. The city lies on the Mekong River and Laos is just across The First Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge. It wasn’t there when I was growing up though; it didn’t officially open until 1994. When I was at school a friend and his family were planning to visit Samui during the holidays and they invited me along. I remember it being a long trip, it’s more than 1,200 kilometres by road, but I was enthralled by the island and loved being by the sea. After that Samui was never far from my thoughts.

 

JP: And what did you do after leaving school?

PP: Like lots of young people, I wasn’t really quite sure what I wanted to do. So I thought I would go back to Samui, get a job and see how I felt. That was in the late 1980s – and I’m still here.

 

JP: Where have you worked on the island?

PP: Samui was much different then with nowhere near the number of resorts, hotels and restaurants than there are now. And it was mostly beach bungalows rather than luxury hotels. My first job was at the Royal Blue Lagoon in Lamai which is where the Renaissance Resort is now. Back then it was simple bungalows with lots of space between each resort. I stayed there for three years working in the beach bar which was perfect for me; it was a lot of fun. I then spent eight years at the prestigious Santiburi (Dusit) Resort in Mae Nam where I learned a huge amount about food and service. My current General Manager at Buri Rasa, Bernd Schillig, was my Food & Beverage Manager at Santiburi. When I was there I was the ‘Koh Samui Cocktail Competition’ champion three years in a row – 1999, 2000 and 2001. After that I decided to focus more on the restaurant side of the business and develop my people management skills.

 

JP: And where did you go from there?

PP: I had a year at Zico’s Bar and Grill Brazilian barbecue restaurant in Chaweng and then I went back to the Royal Blue Lagoon. It had since changed owners and been completely rebuilt and become Buriraya Resort and Spa and was just about to be re-branded as the Renaissance Resort. Anyway, I spent a year with them getting the restaurants up to speed. And then I joined the opening team at Eat Sense restaurant on Chaweng beach. I was the Food & Beverage Manager there for seven years before joining up with Bernd again here just recently.

 

Tell us about The Beach Club @ Buri Rasa.

PP: We’re right on Chaweng Beach and we have a large infinity pool, a raised terrace, a fresh fish station and barbecue area and a stage for the bands and musicians that play every night from 6:30 pm. And all of the tables overlook the ocean. There’s also a relaxed beach bar where we have happy hours (buy-one-get-one-free) from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm and again from 10:00 pm until 11:00 pm every night and, of course, a great selection of cocktails. Our signature ‘Rasa Colada’ is served in a coconut shell and is both delicious and reassuringly potent.

 

JP: And what about the food?

PP: It’s an extensive menu, including Californian cuisine, Thai dishes created by Chef Kanchana (better known as Chef Tim) and an incredible seafood barbecue selection. Chef Tim has had a famous cookery school and restaurant (W by Wanlamun) in Chiang Mai for many years and she has incorporated her classic style of Thai cuisine into our menu. Our chefs visit the local seafood market every day and typically we’ll have fresh lobsters, oysters, tiger prawns, calamari, mussels, snapper, salmon, crab, tuna and barracuda on the menu. We have set menus from 350 baht to 950 baht with no added service charge or VAT added to the bill and à la carte selections.

 

JP: And don’t you also have theme nights running throughout the week?

PP: Yes, we have three all-you-can-eat buffet and barbecue evenings which start at 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); on Thursdays it’s ‘Authentic Thai Cuisine Night’ (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). And there’s the happy hours and live music so it’s worth coming along early and enjoying the sunset before dinner.

 

JP: What advice would you give to young hospitality professionals who want to succeed in the business?

PP: Take responsibility, develop a positive attitude, ask questions and take notes and never forget that it’s a people-focused industry. Every guest must be treated with respect and warmly welcomed and when you manage others you also have to treat them the same and earn their respect. If you can, take positions with companies or organisations that you can learn from and who will help you develop your skills. And be prepared to work hard both mentally and physically. Those who are lazy or indifferent don’t seem to thrive in this business.

 

JP: Finally, Khun Pradit, when you get some time off what do you like to do to relax?

PP: I love fishing. Often a couple of friends and I will take a boat out for the day, have a beer or two and hopefully catch some fish. And when we do, we take them back and fire up the barbecue. I don’t think we’re alone in the world in those pursuits! And simple things like chatting and enjoying a meal with friends is what life is all about.

 

Johnny Paterson

 


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