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Deceptively simple food

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TOM YUM GOONG as served at Sofitel’s chef’s table

THAILAND’S CLIMATE — social and meteorological — makes for perfect culinary theater. Spices and herbs grow in abundance, while influences are gathered from high and low, from different regions like China, India, and Portugal through trade; to different classes: from the royal family itself down to the common people.

Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, in partnership with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, presents the culinary jewels of Amazing Thailand in a week-long epicurean celebration entitled “Flavors of the World: Jewels of Thai Cuisine.” Featuring guest Thai Master Chef Anurak Kanittharat, Executive Chef of sister Accor property Grand Mercure Phuket Patong Resort & Villas, this limited gastronomic series will run from Aug. 26 until Sept. 1 at Spiral and is set to bring the vibrant, flavorful, and healthy specialties that make Thai cuisine one of the most beloved in the world.

Thai food is known as being deceptively simple, using simple techniques like grilling, frying, and steaming. “I think cooking Thai food is actually easy and still present unique flavors. For example with salads, the main seasonings are sugar, fish sauce, and lemon juice — those are used for all salads. For curry, the main seasonings are fish sauce, sugar, curry paste, and coconut juice. It’s very easy! It just varies depending on which region in Thailand the dish is made,” said Mr. Kanittharat. Thailand, after all, has several culinary regions: Bangkok is characterized by its proximity to the royal family’s residences, for example, while Northeastern Thailand takes cues from Laos, and then Southern Thai cuisine can take inspiration from Chinese cuisine.

Speaking about how Thai food speaks about its people, he said, “Thai people like to cook at home and are not too fond of dining in Thai restaurants. We have our own personal versions and flavors which we cannot find in Thai restaurants. The recipe is similar, yes, but we have varying taste in how the food is prepared.”

Mr. Kanittharat specializes in reinventing Asian classics through his innovative culinary techniques. His extensive career has spanned 20 years with stints in Anantara Hotels & Resorts in Phuket, Bangkok, and the Maldives; the Marriott Hotel in Phuket and Bangkok; and AVANI Seychelles Barbarons Resort & Spa in Africa. In 2016, he made his homecoming as the Executive Chef of Grand Mercure Phuket Patong Resort & Villas, a beachside Accor property located at the heart of the island of Phuket in the Andaman Sea. He finds himself in the Philippines through the Flavors of the World culinary series, which has seen Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese, Spanish, and Italian food festivals featuring a visiting guest chef from a sister Accor group property.

Travel through the culinary landscape of Thailand with modern interpretations of classic favorites like Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Thai green curry with chicken), Goong Pad Peaw Waan (stir-fried prawns with sweet and sour sauce), Pla Neung Manow (steamed sea bass with spicy lime sauce), Massaman Nuea (beef in Massaman curry), Gai Yang Essan (Northeast-style roast chicken with dried chili sauce), Tom Yum Goong (traditional Thai soup with aromatic herb and tiger prawn), Som Tam (papaya salad with prawns), Pad Thai Goong (stir-fried rice noodles with prawns), and dessert specialties like Khao Niew Mamuang (sticky rice with sweet mango), and Kluay Muah Chee (warm banana in coconut milk syrup). Lunch at Spiral is available at P2,750 nett while dinner rates start at P3,200 nett. The Sunday brunch with free-flowing champagne is available at P4,215 nett.

On Aug. 29, Mr. Kanittharat helms an exclusive wine dinner featuring a six-course menu paired with a premium selection of international wines from St. Hallett Barossa. His signature creations include Yum Som-O Hoi Sell (seared Queen scallop with pomelo salad and crispy coconut meat), Larb Ped Yang (grilled duck breast with spicy mint and lime berry sauce), Thai Tom Yum Goong, Pad Thai Kai (chicken Pad Thai), Tom Kha Panang Nua (ghar-grilled beef tenderloin with aromatic herb coconut lemon sauce), and Kluay Kaek (fried banana and coconut ice-cream). The Thai Wine Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m., and costs P3,500 nett. — J.L. Garcia





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