Samui Wining & Dining
Kitchen King

We chat to Chef Ton, Executive Chef at Buri Rasa’s The Beach Club.


 

15When you first meet Chef Ton (Khun Chaiyakorn), the first thing that you notice is his genuine smile and gentle demeanour. As you chat to him, it becomes obvious that he loves his job – and it hardly seems right to call it a job if it’s what you love to do.

    Buri Rasa is an oasis from the often chaotic Chaweng. Once you walk inside it’s as though you’ve entered a world of yesteryear, with its colonial charm. It’s these pleasant surroundings and tranquillity that drew Chef Ton to Buri Rasa, and in particular the charming beachside restaurant, The Beach Club.

      Chef Ton started his career at the very bottom of the kitchen hierarchy as a kitchen assistant at Samui Paradise Resort in 2001, where he worked for three years, slowly learning the basics under various international chefs.

       His next port of call was the Santiburi Resort and Spa, where he moved up a rung on the ladder, and worked as commis chef for five years. He fondly remembers learning skills from Chef Dan and Chef Hunter, who taught him Western styles of cooking, as well as barbeque techniques. Five years is a

long time in one establishment for a chef, so he moved on to Six Senses Samui, adding another top-notch resort to his résumé. Here, he worked for three years at both of the resort’s restaurants, Dining on the Hill and Dining on the Rocks, starting first as demi chef, and later being promoted to sous chef.

      Deciding to broaden his horizons, Chef Ton moved to Phuket to the Radisson Blu Hotel, a 211-room establishment, where he worked for a year as Executive Sous Chef. But he missed Samui, so when the opportunity arose to move back he jumped at the chance. For about four months, Chef Ton worked at The Sea, helping to set up a new menu and train the staff, until he found his niche at The Beach Club, where he’s been since October 2012 – and hopes to stay a while.

      Other than the obviously beautiful surroundings of Buri Rasa and Chaweng Beach, Chef Ton particularly enjoys the support he receives from General Manager, Bernd Schillig. He loves creating fusion food as well as contemporary Thai cuisine. But he’s learnt a lot from the chefs who’ve trained him over the past 12 years, and The Beach Club’s new menu reflects his range of capabilities.

      The Beach Club’s lunch menu consists of casual favourites with an assortment of salads, sandwiches, gourmet sandwiches and wraps. Chef’s take on fish and chips is white snapper fillets in beer batter with chips, malt vinegar and tatare sauce. Pasta lovers will enjoy the range available with a selection of pastas and sauces to mix and match. The menu has a global feel with choices ranging from Mexican nachos to Australian steak sandwiches. And of course there are Thai food options too.

      The dinner menu offers a wider selection, with a distinct Mediterranean feel, as well as the Thai food menu and barbecue seafood selections too. Worthy of a mention is that The Beach Club doesn’t add service charge or VAT to the bill, so what you see is what you pay, no hidden surprises.

      Chefs tend to have little free time, but when he’s on holiday, Chef Ton likes to explore Krabi and Chiang Mai, where he tries out restaurants, always on the lookout for new ideas. He’s also doing a computer course at the Samui Computer and Technology Center, and loves researching new cooking techniques on the internet, as well as browsing through cookery books between shifts. If he comes up with an idea, on the specials board it goes - which is where a chef appreciates support from the general manager. Any chef who doesn’t have the freedom to try new ideas would simply be called a cook. The part that draws most chefs to the industry is their creative streak, so they require a certain amount of freedom to explore new culinary ideas, and try these ideas out on diners.

As Chef Ton says his goodbyes, he speaks of a new dish he eagerly wants to get back to the kitchen to try. It involves Lyonnaise potatoes, a rocket salad and grilled salmon. He’s busy working out the final touches before adding it to the specials board. Anyone for lunch?

 


Rosanne Turner


 


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