Samui Wining & Dining
Kitchen King

February’s ‘Chef of The Month’ is Stephen Dion at H Bistro, Hansar Samui Resort & Spa.


4Our spotlight this month falls upon Executive Chef Stephen Jean Dion. And ever since H Bistro at Hansar Samui Resort & Spa opened last year in Bophut it has received nothing but high praise for the consistent quality of the cuisine and excellent levels of service. We caught up with Chef Stephen recently to find out more about him and his food.


JP: Where are you from originally, Chef?

SJD: I was born and brought up in Montreal, Canada.


JP: Can you tell us about your career to date please?

SJD: I began my culinary career as an eighteen year-old apprentice at the famed restaurant ‘Les Halles’ in Quebec under the leadership of Dominic Crovosier. Les Halles was considered one of the most outstanding independent restaurants in Canada.

After two years there, I travelled to Asia passing through Singapore and Malaysia before taking up a position in Bangkok at the famous ‘Ma Maison Restaurant’ at the Hilton Nai Lert Park as Chef de Cuisine. Then a unique opportunity to be the Private Chef to His Majesty the King of Jordan became a turning point in my career and I spent the next two years catering for the Royal Jordanian Family. I have cooked for many high profile dignitaries and royalty including the Sultan of Brunei and Prince Charles, to name but a few. I then returned to Bangkok where I spent the next five years at the ‘Lebua’ at State Tower Bangkok (also known as ‘The Dome’). I started out as Chef de Cuisine of their ‘Sirocco’ restaurant and within a few years became the Executive Chef.


JP: When did you start at Hansar Samui Resort and why did you take the position?

SJD: I started at the end of December 2009 and began the planning process for H Bistro’s opening later in 2010. I felt very much at home with the company and the team. It’s like one rather large family where everyone helps out and works together well. The name ‘Hansar’ is taken from the Sanskrit language and means happiness and joy. Conceptually and philosophically, Hansar Samui is focused on delivering an experience to every guest that is happy, memorable and enjoyable. And to achieve that, we as a team have to believe in that and really demonstrate it in everything we do.


JP: Tell us something about the resort.

SJD: It’s a stunning new 74-room beachfront resort located at the far end of Fisherman’s Village in Bophut. Each of the rooms has a seaview and as well as the restaurant we have the elevated Chill Lounge. It overlooks the sea and the team have put together an innovative cocktail list which is very popular particularly during happy hours in the late afternoon/early evening. Sitting watching the sun go down with a cocktail or two is just the perfect way to start your evening. Try the Coco Mango, Hansar Sling or the Hansar Mojito.


JP: What were your first impressions about Samui as an island and in terms of culinary standards?

SJD: It’s great for me to have a kitchen and restaurant that both overlook the sea. Just seeing that view each day makes you feel good and it’s very different from working in a large city. I knew Samui had a great reputation for both Thai and international cuisine but I was still amazed that so many very good chefs and restaurants were all together on a relatively tiny island in the Gulf of Thailand. Competition is fierce and that’s good for us in terms of always striving to be at our very best. And it’s wonderful for visitors to have such a fantastic range of choice. Not to mention the fact that fine-dining restaurants here are a fraction of the price of similar places in, say, Europe or North America.


JP: What have you achieved since starting at Hansar?

SJD: My first challenge was to put together a talented brigade that understood the vision I had for the restaurant. I choose carefully and we have a team of 11 in the kitchen with five kitchen stewards and nine front-of-house (restaurant) staff. Everyone knows what’s expected of them and only the very best food and service will do. We’ve recently been recognised by the social media website Trip Advisor as one of the best restaurants on the island and, as that’s rated by guests who have dined here; it’s very pleasing for us.


JP: How would you describe the cuisine at H Bistro?

SJD: We are strongly focused on fresh French Mediterranean cuisine using imported high-quality produce. Our lobsters come from Maine in the USA and we have oysters from France, Canada, Japan and the USA, Alaskan king crab, Australian lamb, beef and mussels and Italian cured meats for our charcuterie selection. In addition, we also have a great Thai food menu with plenty of favourites using only the very best quality ingredients.


JP: Can you make some recommendations from your menus please?

SJD: I particularly enjoy the peach caramelized foie gras with Jerez jus as an appetizer. And we have some excellent oysters, such as Fines Del Claires from France, Kumamoto from the USA and Tatamagouche from Canada. For a main course I’d recommend the grilled Maine lobster with garlic butter and rocket, the slow cooked prime Angus beef tenderloin with celeriac, baby carrots and puffed quinoa and the Hansar seafood melody which includes the lobster, Hokkaido scallops, oysters, mussels and prawns. Our Thai specialities include tom yum goong – a hot and sour soup with prawns and gaeng phet pet yang – roast duck breast with red curry. And to finish off I’d go for the warm melted chocolate cake with vanilla ice-cream.


JP: What are the most important skills and attributes a chef in your position needs to have?

SJD: Work hard, never stop learning, be hands-on, lead from the front and share your knowledge with your team.


JP: Finally, Chef, when you get the time, how do you relax away from work?

SJD: I spend it with my family; my children are an inspiration to me and I love being with them.


Copyright 2017 Samui Wining & Dining. All rights reserved Siam Map Company Ltd.