A chef who is credited with elevating Thai cuisine to a fine dining experience in Bangkok where haute cuisine is more associated with French or Italian fare has been named the inaugural recipient of Asia’s Best Female Chef Award.
In advance of Restaurant magazine’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards next month – the first of its kind -- Duangporn Songvisava, better known as ‘Bo,’ was recognized for being a leader in Thai cuisine and snagged Veuve Clicquot Asia’s Best Female Chef Award.
The journey that took the chef from culinary student to chef-owner of one of the top restaurants in Bangkok, meanwhile, was a meandering one that started in Australia, took her to London and ended with a homecoming back to Thailand.
After completing a master’s degree in Thai gastronomy at Griffith University in Adelaide, she returned to Thailand where she worked at The Metropolitan Bangkok and met the man who would become a pivotal influence on her career, Australian chef David Thompson, who adopted Thai cuisine as his own and elevated it to Michelin-starred status.
In 2005, Songvisava moved to London to join Thompson’s team at Nahm, where she also began to nurture a dream to bring fine dining Thai cuisine to its rightful place: home.
So, in 2009, Songvisava returned to Bangkok with her husband Dylan Jones, also a chef, where they set up Bo.Ian.
Menus are developed in line with the Slow Food philosophy of using fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, and upholding the country’s culinary heritage.
That means not compromising on authenticity -- or chilies-- for Western palates or shying away from ingredients and flavors that may be unfamiliar to foreigners.
A sample menu, for instance, includes dishes like Northern-style spicy pork salad with native spices and greens, hot and sour soup of herbal-fed chicken and young tamarind leaves, and chili relish of dried prawns served with local greens and grilled quail.
Along with an à la carte menu, the restaurant also has a ‘Balance’ menu, developed as a well-balanced meal made up of five dishes: Thai salad, a chili relish, stir-fried dish, curry, and soup.
In addition to running one of the hottest dining destinations in Bangkok, Songvisava also hosts the Thai TV program "Eat, Am Are," which examines issues such as food security and sustainable food consumption.
The Thai chef will accept her award February 25 in Singapore, during Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony.
Songvisava will formally accept her award at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony on February 25 at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.
The event comes from the same organizers of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards.