There’s a German invasion at the French-owned Le Méridien. Bold young chef Markus Rotard, who at 23 became the youngest executive chef in the Starwood group, says he came to Asia—following a recent four-year stint in Stockholm—to experience the joys of teaching staff and absorbing flavours from a new culture. “No risk, no gain,” is the lean and lanky cook’s motto. Adding a la carte pizzazz to the hotel’s all-purpose breakfast-to-buffet restaurant, Chef Rotard can plate pretty entrées with the best of them: a smear of cauliflower purée sits under succulent chunks of roast, with asparagus tips lending edible and aesthetic contrast. “The advantage of working for a hotel is that there’s more money to back your creativity,” he says. “And, here, they have given me free rein.”
So the native of the Frankfurt region, conspiring with a general manager who originally hails from a nearby area in Germany, has decided to move the hotel into new culinary territory by falling back on an old favourite. It’s sausage—also known as wurst—that he thinks will go best with the Patpong district’s hungry street traffic. By the end of November, Le Méridien hopes to have completed a total overhaul of its ground-level Latitude 13 (yes, the correct geographic reading for Bangkok) from an under-utilized space for smokers into an earthy barbecue restaurant spilling out on the sidewalks of Surawong Road. Part of the draw will come on Thursdays, when they will present live music. But every night, the main show on offer will be “Bubble and Dogs,” with champagne in a supporting role to the wide array of sausages Chef Rotard plans to manufacture in-house.
He shows off a “curry wurst” that’s more Indian than Thai in spice mix and, surprisingly, already a staple item back in Deutschland. He keeps secret for now the many other tube-shaped treats he plans to offer. But they will be accompanied by a series of specialty hot sauces that come from Kansas in the US (one is called “American Killer”). One even contains the dreaded bhut jolokia pepper from Assam, more commonly known as the ghost chilli, which can be consumed only in tiny droplets. Chef Rotard knows full well the Thai reputation for being able to handle the hottest food around—he wants to challenge locals. Latitude 13 will even stage a contest where the diner who can take the hottest hot sauce will win a free month of hot dogs.
The philosophy of the Le Méridien chain, as Rotard explains, is to help guests “unlock their destination.” By this, he means come into real contact with all that’s around him. And maybe the best of German wurst will help visitors take a bite out of Bangkok street life as well.
Le Méridien Bangkok, 40/5 Surawong Rd | 0 2232 8888 | lemeridienbangkokpatpong.com | daily 7.30am-10pm