Guest blog by Damien Neylon, the winner of the 2015 Hostplus Hospitality Scholarship.
The first stop on Damien's whirlwind trip across the world is David Thompson’s Nahm Restaurant in Bangkok - just in time for The Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle no less!
I had no hesitation leaving a cold and wet Melbourne to arrive late at night in Bangkok to 37(°C).
I got up early the next day and headed to the Klong Toey market, deep inside one of the capital’s largest ports.
I saw an amazing amount of fruit and vegetables that I had never seen before. I tasted durian (I’m with the majority of people who that think that it tastes like it smells?!); a green beef curry with apple eggplants that was so hot I almost passed out; and a popular dish called ‘boat noodles’ - large noodles stir fried in a sauce made with pork blood.
The next day was my first in the kitchen and I was put on the stir fry station, which involved a lot of cutting so everything is prepped and ready to go. In the Nahm kitchen everything is done to order – down to grinding out fresh curry pastes in a mortar and pestle every time.
The different seasonings were interesting too, from fish sauce and citrus juice to different forms of sweetness and spices. It was really exciting to try and learn to change my palate to understand the new flavours.
Then on Thursday it was The Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle. David Thompson left for France as René Redzepi and his Noma team took over Nahm. It was a real privilege to work with them and see their take on Thai cuisine. We all headed out together after service for a late night bite on green papaya salad, deep fried beef gums, chicken feet, clams and a whole lot more.
Thailand is an extremely beautiful and friendly country with such a famous food culture. It was incredibly rewarding to be able to be immersed in the culture and tradition, albeit for a small time. And some late night pad thai action.
Now on to Italy!
Stay tuned as Damien will be checking in soon from Massimo Bottura’s kitchen at Osteria Francescana in Modena