Samui Wining & Dining
Kitchen King
October’s ‘Chef of The Month’ is Khun Adisorn Kwanthep
at The Farmer Restaurant & Bar in Mae Nam.


Kitchen KingSince opening last year, The Farmer Restaurant & Bar in Mae Nam has gained an enviable reputation. Serving both regional Thai cuisine and international dishes its open terraces and private dining rooms overlook traditional rice fields and the mountains beyond. (It’s located just off the ring-road in Mae Nam a couple of kilometres after the traffic lights coming from Chaweng/Bo Phut on the left-hand side.) Executive Chef Adisorn Kwanthep runs the kitchen and he took some time out recently to tell us about his culinary career to date.


JP: Hi Chef, are you originally from Samui?

AK: No, I was born and brought up in Songkla in the south of Thailand, near the border with Malaysia. It’s a major seaport on the eastern side of the country and is home to one of the largest fishing fleets in the Gulf of Thailand. History enthusiasts might also know that it’s where the Japanese army landed on the 8th of December 1941, just hours before the raid on Pearl Harbor. It was one of the staging posts for their Malayan campaign and they proceeded south from there towards Penang and eventually to Singapore.


JP: Why did you decide to become a chef?

AK: I enjoyed cooking at home as a child and grew up not far from a huge fish market. And the more I learned about food the more I wanted to know; it just felt right to develop my passion professionally.


JP: Where did your career begin?

AK: In 1998 I took a junior chef’s position at Hartmannsdorfer Brauhaus in Bangkok. Over three years I learned a huge amount about both Thai and European food. The basic skills I developed there were the foundations for everything that was to follow. And the restaurant also had a microbrewery on site so I learned something about beer making and I did enjoy the occasional German brew from time to time!


JP: And where did you go from there?

AK: I made a conscious decision to move to a hotel that could give me very different culinary experiences than that of the Brauhaus. And so for the next two and a half years I worked as a demi chef at the Miracle Grand Convention Hotel, also in the capital. It had 260 rooms, served Royal Thai, Japanese and Chinese cuisines in the restaurants and had 20 meeting and conferences rooms including the Grand Ballroom which could host 2,500 guests. Our kitchens and storage areas alone were immense and catering to so many guests at one time requires a completely different skill set. It was intense but also a great learning experience.


JP: And then you came to Samui for the first time?

AK: Yes, it meant a promotion to chef de partie and again to a quite different set-up. Le Royal Meridien (now the Baan Taling Ngam Resort & Spa) was on the beach on the quiet west coast of Samui and catered to tourists from all around the world. Our guests were much more relaxed and had the time to enjoy the setting and the cuisine; they weren’t rushing to get to their next seminar. And I personally loved being by the sea again. I then went back to Bangkok for a year to work with Canadian chef Stephen Jean Dion at Lebua State Tower; he’s now the Executive Chef at Hansar Samui resort at the end of Fisherman’s Village on Samui. After that I spent six months at Napasai Resort on Samui before taking the sous chef position at Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Luxury Holistic Spa & Detox Resort on the south of the island. It was a new experience for me once again with a very strong emphasis on healthy, natural foods and I had a fantastic couple of years there.


JP: And then I believe you returned to Bangkok once more; is that correct?

AK: Yes, an opportunity came up to be the Executive Chef at Mahidol University. I stayed there for two years and developed my own team, menus and operating structures. And for the first time I was truly responsible for the brigade, the profitability of the restaurants and the style of food that was served. And then, in May of year, the owner of The Farmer got in touch with me and offered me this position which I was delighted to accept.


JP: Can you please give us some Thai cuisine recommendations from your menu at The Farmer?

AK: Do try the ‘grilled seabass in banana leaf with red curry sauce’; the ‘Southern-style beef Mussaman curry’; and the ‘baked rice with ham, pineapple, pork and prawns served in a pineapple shell’, they’re proving to be very popular.


JP: And some of your international favourites?

AK: The ‘roast marinated French cut of lamb with ratatouille tart and mint sauce’ is definitely one of my all-time favourites. And I’d also suggest the ‘Farmer 'N' Fisherman char-grilled beef tenderloin and spiny lobster on thyme jus and crustacean bisque’; our ‘caramelized duck breast with vegetables and fine noodles in a honey and orange sauce’; the ‘fillet of tuna in sesame crush with braised rice lentils and balsamic reduction; and the ‘mixed grilled combination of beef tenderloin, chicken breast, pork loin and lamb chops served with vegetables, potatoes and red wine sauce’.


JP: What would you say it takes to succeed as a chef?

AK: You have to love food to start with – and not just eating it! You’ll know the difference between being passionate about food and just being interested. It’s also a good idea when you’re young to work in a number of very different types of restaurants to broaden your knowledge and skills. And never forget that it’s a team game in the kitchen – not a competition amongst individuals.


JP: Finally, Chef, what’s the perfect day off for you?

AK: That’s easy, having another chef cook for me!


Johnny Paterson


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