Some of the world’s finest culinary minds arrive in Bangkok this month for the Sofitel So Bangkok’s So Amazing Chefs event – so much good food, so little time.
As Paul Smart, Sofitel So Bangkok’s executive chef, demonstrates exactly how to prepare a white fish mariniere with lobster tea, he recalls last year’s So Amazing Chefs event, which returns this month, bringing nine of the world’s most expert, innovative chefs together in Bangkok for a four-day celebration of food.
In particular, Smart recalls the ‘culinary showdown’ between the world-class chefs which has returned to this year’s programme due to popular demand.
“It started off pretty friendly,” Smart says. “But chefs are a competitive bunch so they ended up taking it pretty seriously.”
Smart is in the middle of teaching a cooking class for attending media against the stunning backdrop of the view from the hotel’s Park Society. Some pupils barely seem to know which end of the knife to use, while others demonstrate some surprising expertise. Aside from the white fish mariniere – effectively a seafood carpaccio – there’s a roasted tenderloin beef rossini with pan-seared foie gras and a mixed berry souffle.
This, of course, is a mere entree to what’s scheduled at the So Amazing Chefs event later this month, when a range of cooking classes with be held with the visiting chefs. Whether it’s molecular cuisine or wine-tasting or indulging your sweet tooth by working with gourmet chocolate, the programme has something for everyone.
“The feedback we received from last year’s inaugural event was overwhelming and we’re delighted to organise the second So Amazing Chefs,” Sofitel So general manager Gilles Cretallaz says.
“Not only does the event reflect the Sofitel commitment to gastronomy but it really is just a wonderful reason for us to get together, exchange ideas and, of course, showcase the immense talents of the participating chefs.
“As with last year, we will again be hosting a culinary showdown with proceeds going to charity and I hope our guests will take advantage of the rare opportunities to get up close and personal with the culinary artists.”
Alternatively, if that all sounds too intense, the seven-course menu being served on the closing Saturday night, hosted at Park Society, may appeal. Tickets are B4000 per head, or B5000 with a wine pairing. With two main courses and two desserts, it promises to be a truly memorable meal.
The only thing for organisers left to worry about is whether the visiting chefs can curtail their competitive instincts long enough to survive until the blockbuster dinner on the final night.
THE KITCHEN TALENT
Born in Australia, Smart did his apprenticeship at the Ritz London and cooked for Queen Elizabeth. He has since taken the reins at Sofitel So Bangkok’s executive chef, where he has won a swag of awards. He also managed to challenge – and win – on Iron Chef Thailand.
Lauded as Franceís top pastry chef, Bouillet owns and operates boutiques in Lyon and Tokyo. He also runs Gateau Ecole, a pastry-making school in Vieux-Lyon. A distinguished patisseier-choclatier, Bouillet is a member of Relais Dessert International and Toques Blanches du monde.
His profile skyrocketed after his role as one of the MasterChef judges but Caron was well-known in the Netherlands long before his appearance on Dutch television, having carved out a career working in Michelin three-star restaurants.
A master sommelier, Faelens owns Bacchantes wine bar in Amsterdam and also specialises in importing wine from southwestern France. His refined taste has allowed him to become one of the leading suppliers of wines in the Netherlands and he also organises dinners and tasting events.
The Dutch chef-owner of the Michelin one-star Ivy in Rotterdam is a master of molecular cuisine, creating mind-blowing combinations without using dyes, additives or binders. His constant pursuit of new ideas has allowed him to travel the world and become an expert on cooking trends.
Inspired by the sea and soil of Britany, Jeffroy sources the finest produce to create gourmet Breton food and in 2011 produced his award-winning seafood cookbook, Faim de mer en fin de terre – or ‘hungry sea at the end of the earth’.
Hailed by his many admirers as the ‘encyclopedia of chocolate’, Bonnat is the maitre-choclatier of his family business, which was established in 1884 in France and remains the longest-running chocolaterie in the world. His artisan delicacies include single-origin chocolates, some dating back to the Incan Empire.
Offering authentic Lyonnais-style cuisine in the heart of Tokyo, Paucod has become one of the leading French chefs in Japan and formerly worked with Sofitel Tokyo. He runs a traditional bouchon and organises annual French culinary events to showcase the food of his homeland.
Now based in Hanoi, Corlou has travelled the world, cooking for presidents in Africa and royalty in Asia. His titles include Master Chef of France and Five-Star Diamond award winner. He is chef-owner of La Verticale and Madame Hien in Hanoi.