Samui Wining & Dining
Kitchen King

We chat to Chef Thammasak Sripaoraya at The Passage in Laem Yai, to find out what’s cooking.

 

7Chefs often have a bad reputation as being ‘prima donnas’. They’re attention-seekers and sometimes flighty, job-hopping for the best status job, or where they’ll get recognised for the artists that they are. Sometimes … but it’s not always the case. Other times, you’ll find a chef who quietly gets on with the job, just enjoying working with food, and not after the status attached to being the head chef of a high-end establishment. He doesn’t crave fame and glory; he’s just interested in making good food and keeping guests happy.

      The latter describes Chef Thammasak Sripaoraya (Chef Moo) of The Terrace Restaurant at The Passage located on Laem Yai beach, on the north coast of the island. He’s a quiet man, with a big smile, who loves being in the kitchen. When we asked him which celebrity he’d like to cook for and why, his answer was, “My mum … because I want her to test my cooking. She cooked for me my whole life, and now I want to do something for her.” This statement reiterates what Chef Moo is all about – a down-to-earth honest man who loves working at The Passage, where he sees the staff as an extension of his family. In his little free time, he enjoys participating in adventure sports and fishing. And ladies, if you’re looking for a man who can cook… he’s single!

      Chef Moo loves meeting new people, and he’s inspired by those he meets, be they guests, or the Western chefs he’s trained under in the past. He equally enjoys preparing the Thai dishes which he’s grown up with, but also European cuisine. He’s particularly adept at vegetarian food, having worked for a year at Amala restaurant, which was known for its vegetarian dishes.

      But his career in the kitchen began long before this, in 1993, where he started as a commis chef at Central Plaza Hotel in Bangkok. Here he worked for three years, learning the basics and getting a good grounding for a career in the kitchen. From 1996 until 2003, Chef Moo took on the challenge of senior cook at the Vietnamese section of the Hotel Sofitel, further improving his culinary skills as he went along.

      A desire to travel and see more than just Thailand led him to Singapore where, from 2003 to 2005, he worked at the Old Saigon Tim Sum & Restaurant. But Thailand called him back again for another stint at the Hotel Sofitel, this time as sous chef of the Vietnamese kitchen.

       Needing a break from city life, Chef Moo decided to give Samui a try, and learnt the art of tasty vegetarian food at Prana Beach Villas in Bangrak, where he worked as sous chef for a year. When he’d learnt all he could here, he moved on to Kandaburi Resort & Spa in Chaweng, where he fine-tuned his skills in Mediterranean cooking.

      For the past year, Chef Moo has been keeping up the exceptional standard of cooking at The Terrace – the beachfront restaurant of The Passage, a peaceful resort away from Samui’s crowded areas. It’s here that Chef Moo puts his 20 years of kitchen skills into practice by creating delicious Thai and Western dishes, happily working with his ‘extended family’.

       The Terrace is reasonably priced as far as hotel restaurants go, and the view is fantastic, overlooking a quiet section of beach. There’s a simple lunch menu, and a more adventurous dinner menu. The house specialty is Gang Hin Samun Prai, which to those of us who don’t speak Thai, is otherwise known as grilled rock lobster with Thai herbs. Now while one usually expects to pay an arm and a leg for rock lobster, at The Terrace, it will only set you back 590 baht, inclusive of tax and service charge.

         And if you can’t decide on meat or seafood, it’s wise to take advantage of Chef Moo’s ‘Surf & Turf Eclipse Plate’, which is more than enough for two to share. You’ll get a hearty 500g grilled rib-eye steak with French fries and a red wine-pepper sauce, as well as two whole grilled rock lobsters (600g) served with baked potato, vegetables and a garlic lemon-butter sauce. Again this comes at a very reasonable 1,900 baht, inclusive. Signature dishes, as well as vegetarian and spicy options are clearly marked on the menu, helping to make the vast choice a little easier to narrow down.

         So if you’re interested in good food at a reasonable price, well prepared from fresh ingredients, and a perfect beachfront setting, it’s worth popping down to The Passage and trying Chef Moo’s hearty cooking at The Terrace.

         

Rosanne Turner


 


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