Background: “Ian” is Thailand’s first international celebrity chef quite an achievement considering he started his culinary career selling curry as a child from the food-cart he pushed through his Bangkok neighbourhood.
Story by Laurence Civil & Luxe Team
Fate took him to Sydney where he completed a French fine dining apprenticeship. On his return to Thailand he joined the Four Seasons Bangkok, working his way through the ranks to be the first Thai anywhere in the world to be appointed Executive Chef of an International Five Star Hotel. From there he moved to New York to open his first signature restaurant Kiitichai. Four years later he left to form Cuisine Concepts his own management and consulting company where he created Murmuri in Barcelona; Bangkok’s first gastro pub Hyde & Seek Gastro Bar; Koh by Ian Kittichai at Intercontinental Marine Drive Hotel, Mumbai; Ember Room in New York City and; the relaunch of Spot Dessert Bar both in partnership with Chase Restaurant Group.
His flagship restaurant in Bangkok Issaya Siamese Club in the neighbourhood he grew up which is run in partnership with Fred Meyer, the former General Manager of The Blue Elephant Bangkok.
“Where I chose to eat all depends if I am travelling to somewhere new or I am somewhere I am very familiar with,” says Ian. “If I am somewhere I am very familiar with, I tend to go for simple, local and comfort. If I am somewhere I have not been very much or am totally new to a place, I tend to want to try a local experience, whether casual or fine dining, where I can learn about the cuisine, cooking techniques and food products.”
“I really love traveling and experiencing different cuisines,” he says. “Japan and Spain are two of my favourite countries to dine out. If I have been working a lot, I love to eat a late night simple supper of fresh salads with a glass of red wine at home.”
“There is definitely a difference in the way I see dining when I am the customer compared to when I am cooking in the kitchen,” he says. “When I am the diner, I want to have an enjoyable experience, appreciate the hard work of the kitchen and front of the house team and learn something. When I am the chef, my desire is to give the customers a great experience.”
“Its so hard to name just one favourite,” he says, “it really depends on my mood and where I am. One of my favourites is Thai-style crispy fried oyster pancake. It is comfort food for me yet it is unique with its flavours and textures – soft oysters, crisp pancake batter, bean sprouts and garlic chives topped with the heat and light sweetness of Sriracha sauce.”
“When I am eating in a restaurant what is most likely to annoy me is fellow diners who do not respect their fellow diners,” he concludes.
Below is his restaurants & projects
HYDE & SEEK PEEK-A-BOO
Peek-a-Boo is the newest branch of Hyde & Seek Gastro Bar located in the heart of the city at Groove CentralWorld. The goal for Hyde & Seek Peek-a-Boo is to be a treat for senses and a re-visit of youthful experiences where your spirit can free itself, relax and be entertained in a busy world. The menu is a playground for the senses featuring New American and New British cuisine with Chef ’s innovative touch paired with inspired cocktails.
For more information please go to www.hydeandseek.com
NAMSAAH BOTTLING TRUST
The collective brainchild of Chef Ian Kittichai, music impresario Frederic Meyer and nightlife guru Justin Dunne, Namsaah is the culmination of their respective talents to create this bespoke bar and restaurant experience in the heart of Bangkok. Housed in an early 20th century grand villa, the focus is on classic and whimsical cocktails as well as Asian gastro bar food and larger sharing dishes.
KOH BY IAN KITTICHAI
Enveloping diners in a sensory dining experience like no other in Mumbai, Koh by Ian Kittichai at the Intercontinental Marine Drive Hotel features Chef’s dramatic signature “high Thai” cuisine in a plush and exotic setting created by the renown designers Satomi Hatanaka and Quentin Dante of Studio Q Concepts.
ISSAYA LA PATISSERIE
Chef Ian Kittichai’s and Chef “Paper” Arisara Chongphanitkul’s Issaya La Patisserie on the 5th floor of Central Embassy. The Patisserie is the culmination of Chef Kittichai’s and Chef Paper’s work together at in the pastry kitchens of Issaya Siamese Club and their desire to expand upon their award-winning pastry, dessert and sweet creations. All of the offerings at the Pastiserrie are made fresh every day at the pastry kitchen attached to the Issaya Cooking Studio on the lower level of Central Embassy. The menu offerings range from plated desserts, pastries, macarons, all-day tea sets, ice creams, and savory snacks to eat in the café or take home.
Chef has again joined forces with Chef Peter Pitakwong, and Chanond Purananda to create SMITH, which incorporates international nose-to-tail dining, farm-to-table practices, and sleek rustic style in a reclaimed 40-year-old warehouse in central Bangkok. The menu utilizes various cuts of meats and combinations of fresh wholesome produce to create a diverse symphony of flavors. All produce, meat and fish are humanely, organically, and locally sourced whenever possible. Smith wishes to entertain guests with its innovative design, classic cocktail culture vibe, and modern signature twists, all paired with imaginative cuisine. All of Smith’s décor is locally sourced and produced in Thailand.
ISSAYA COOKING STUDIO
The Studio is the Issaya culinary education and demonstration centre located on the lower level of the Central Embassy complex in central Bangkok. Issaya Cooking Studio is the innovative culmination of its parent restaurant – the renown Issaya Siamese Club, the flagship restaurant Chef Ian Kittichai – and Sub-Zero & Wolf, the leading manufacturer of premium refrigeration and cooking appliances worldwide via its distributor, KitchenArt Thailand.
The 170 square meter space features a large cooking school facility that converts to a chef’s table for intimate dining as well as a bespoke event space, complete with bar and library lounge areas. The curriculum and events featured at the Studio range from classical and basic Thai cuisine to molecular and modern culinary technique offerings. Classes range from beginner to professional chef levels. A Guest Chef Programme featuring chefs from across the globe as guest instructors is also offered at the Studio.
Issaya Cooking Studio also features a panoramic pastry production kitchen for window shoppers and hands-on students alike. The delicious pastries and desserts from the kitchen can be purchased on the 5th floor of Central Embassy at Issaya La Pâtisserie.
The Studio’s décor is in Issaya’s classic-yet-whimsical style with bright bursts of color and light. The Studio is open every day and welcomes walk-ins, appointments, as well as its regular class schedule.
Jum Mum Buns & Rice is a homage to the popular comfort food of man tou (Chinese steamed buns). Chef has put his spin on this classic food and imbibed his buns with playful and international fillings drawing on an array of flavors from Korea, Thailand, China, and further afield.
SPOT DESSERT BAR
Spot Dessert Bar is a beloved treat for all on St. Mark’s Place and in Midtown in NYC. Chef has teamed with Chase Restaurant Group to infuse Asian flavors and sensibilities into American favourites.
Chef’s first stand-alone restaurant, Kittichai Restaurant redefined the way people thought about Thai cuisine. While Chef was at the helm, Kittichai Restaurant appeared in Food & Wine magazine as Best New Asian Restaurants 2005, Travel + Leisure magazine as Best New American Restaurants 2004, as well as appearing in Harper’s Baazar, Vogue, GQ, New York Magazine, New York Times, Gourmet Traveller, and Vanity Fair, amongst numerous others.
Operated : 2003 – 2008
Utilizing classical Thai flavors and traditions with that of the Mediterranean and extensive fresh produce of Barcelona’s famous markets, Chef Ian Chalermkittichai created one of the most highly acclaimed Asian restaurants in Europe.
Operated : 2008 – 2010