Flash-grilled: John Chantarasak

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled: John Chantarasak

Related tags: Chef

The Anglo Thai chef and co-founder on his favourite restaurants in Bangkok, cooking with Irish beef, and being told on Great British Menu that his food's too spicy.

What was your first industry job?
Opposite Mess Hall in Bangkok, I was a chef-de-partie.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
Musician. I played drums in semi-professional bands through my childhood and into my twenties.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
David Thompson. He was a game changer for how Thai cuisine is now perceived in the western world.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Messy, unorganised chefs.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
"Are you supposed to eat this?"

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
Thai recipes using seasonal British Isles produce.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
I got told repeatedly on Great British Menu that my food is too spicy.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Work hard, keep your head down and listen. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes but don’t repeat the same mistake.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
A large granite pestle and mortar. Although if I didn’t have my chef’s knife I wouldn’t get very far with my day-to-day mise en place.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
My mum’s lasagne with one of those cheap garlic bread sticks you can buy at any supermarket. 

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
I’ve had a few sensational meals at Samrub For Thai in Bangkok. It’s an intimate chef table experience cooked by Prin Polsuk (former head chef of Nahm) that’s focused on ancient Thai recipes.

MasterChef or Great British Menu?

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
The late great Anthony Bourdain.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Black Axe Mangal.

Tipple of choice?
Natural wine.

What do you consider your signature dish?
This year I’ve been cooking loads with Irish beef. Large sharing grilled ribeye steaks have become somewhat of a signature feature on our menus, usually paired with a traditional dipping sauce or ‘jaew’ as they’re known in Northern Thailand.

Related topics: Chef, People, Restaurant

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