Samui Wining & Dining
Privileges Of Dining

The ‘Secret Chef Society’ heralds a fine-dining concept that’s new to Samui.


06Trends, fashions, fads and fancies; these are things that ebb and flow. No one can ever be sure which way the wind of change will blow and both careers and fortunes have been made – and lost – due merely to the fickle finger of fate. A few years ago, the world’s top chefs were lining up for jobs in the increasingly popular Middle East. Today many of those same chefs are on Samui, because our little island has now become the place for top jobs and culinary kudos.

So it’s hardly surprising that there’s suddenly a brand-new gourmet venture afoot. Rumours had been going around for quite a while about this but they were elusive. It was hard to identify quite what was happening. It was all a bit secretive, somehow. But now all can be revealed. And the truth of the matter is that … it’s a secret!

Well, to be precise, a ‘Secret Chef Society’, to give it the title that’s now emerged, although I can’t help suspecting that there’s more than one involved … chef, that is. Certainly there were quite a few of them beaming behind their respective tables when I went along to the unveiling, the inception, of this brotherhood at Nikki Beach on 27th August.

Despite the sumptuously laid-back party atmosphere, the strolling saxophonist, the crowd of hale and well-met faces and the obvious emphasis on high-class comestibles (gourmet taster-snacks in the form of party-nibbles) there still remained an air of mystery about it all. It certainly was the ‘Secret’ Chef Society as, after more than a few enquiries, nobody could actually tell me quite what this was! Until I finally latched onto Brian Malloy.

Brian is the Executive Chef at Nikki Beach. And he’s one of the secret chefs, along with those others that I’ll get to in a moment. And it was he to whom I owe my enlightenment. This – this soirée at Nikki Beach – was all simply a get-together to proclaim a new ‘contemporary dining experience program’. And this is how it all works, according to Brian:

It’s an exclusive diners’ club that confers VIP status onto its members. The chefs involved and the restaurants to which they are attached are some of the very best on the island. Each of these world-class chefs is highly creative and has his own signature-style of speciality cuisine. As a member, your details will accrue on a database that’s shared between, and be accessible by, each of the restaurants involved. Your information will record as much as possible about your dining likes, dislikes and preferences, and this information will continue to be added to.

Which means that, when making a future reservation, the wines you prefer will be available, the meat, fish or fowl that you like the most will be proffered and even your favourite veggies and side dishes will be provided. Even your brand of post-prandial cigars will be especially stocked in anticipation of your return, or made available by other member restaurants when you make your reservations with them. But there’s more.

In line with your VIP status, you’ll be greeted on arrival by the Executive Chef and the Restaurant Manager. There will be an especially-prepared table awaiting – or you can specify exactly where you’d like to be (the terrace, the beach, the air-con area and so on) when you make your reservation. In line with the exclusive nature of the membership, your chef will offer a choice of his signature dishes especially for you. This might come in the form of a set four- or five-course menu or a special taster menu. Or you can simply pick from the à la carte items if you prefer. In this sphere, you’re the boss and what you want, you’ll get.

You’ll also receive a complementary glass of sparkling wine on being shown to your table. And as the evening progresses you can expect your chef to continually be popping out of his nook to enquire as to your physical and culinary well-being, as well as the Restaurant Manager, who’s brief on this particular evening is to Take Very Great Care of you. In a nutshell, you don’t have to be David Beckham to be treated like him – you just need to have a Secret Chef Society card and decide which part of the island or what restaurant you fancy eating at that night.

It’s an admirable idea which shows all the signs of becoming a success. Obviously it all centres around the element of exclusivity: it would become devalued and worthless if every high street eatery boasted an ‘SCS’ logo outside. Which is why participating restaurants will remain enviably few.

Right now you can expect to be an ‘SCS VIP’ courtesy of chef, Azizskandar Awang, at Rocky’s Boutique Resort, in Lamai, who was classically trained in French cuisine and has earned several national awards. Then there’s Sébastien Meunier of Red Snapper at Chaweng Regent Beach Resort, a renowned chef with a modern approach to Mediterranean cuisine. At KC Resort & Over Water Villas in northern Chaweng, you’ll find Ryan Dadufalza at The View Restaurant & Wine Lounge with his concept of ‘Home-Crafted Cuisine’. And then there’s Adrian Torres at The Cliff Bar and Grill, on the hill before Lamai, who’s Mediterranean repertoire has been influenced by his time spent working in Spain and Cuba. All of which, believe me, is a star-studded start to the venture.

And the answer to another small secret of how to become a member of this exclusive gastronomic group? Well, you firstly spend at least 1,500 baht at one of the participating restaurants. At which point special handshakes and a membership card will be exchanged and your name and particulars will be databased. However … a little birdie tells me that, this done, it’s not going to cost you a fortune to enjoy the ensuing privileges. For example, over at ‘KC Resort’, chef Ryan’s signature 4-course ‘secret’ menu will set you back just 950 baht …

Ah! The fads and fancies of fanatical foodies! They appear and then they’re gone like nibbles in the night, here today and mere crumbs tomorrow. It’s only the good, solid, quality cuisine that seems to endure. Which is exactly what you’ll get – plus all the perks and special treatment – at the Secret Chef Society. But shush … don’t let everyone know – it’s a secret!


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