Upon departing for Thailand and Laos, Savoury City’s Donna Wadsworth and Blaine Arnot made a pact that whilst traveling throughout the country, they would stick to only authentic Thai eateries–sticking mostly to street food, and even venturing from the street to the alley where some of the most challenging fare can be found! Food being a paramount passion for the culinary duo, they were out to find inspiration in every nook and cranny. The trajectory of their trip took them from the alley to the street and ultimately to Michelin starred venues! I wanted to know more about this diverse Thai culinary experience, so Donna and I had a chance to sit down and chat–which is always enlightening, and fun!
“Food being a paramount passion for the culinary duo, they were out to find inspiration in every nook and cranny.”
You’ve talked about your experiences with street food, but what about higher end restaurants?
While we were in Laos we had the opportunity to check out Paste, a Michelin starred restaurant. It’s owned by the famous Chef Bee Bongkoch, who was awarded “Best Female Chef in Asia” last year! This is her second restaurant–the first Paste is in Bangkok. The restaurant is famous for using authentic, centuries-old Thai recipes and ancient techniques.
How was the cuisine?
Honestly, I don’t know how to explain it! How do you describe food when it’s both sublime and explosive. It’s gentle and soft and then explodes. I was like “what IS this!?” Chef Bee has done a lot of research into the old-word Thai/Laos authentic way of cooking. It’s kind of like slow food but revisited in a Thai/Laos way. It’s just remarkable!
I love that you and Blaine started with street food, then Alley food, and finally to fine dining! It’s a natural trajectory!
Yes! I mean, there is street food and then there is alley food! I wasn’t sure about the alley food! Really!
We went to another restaurant in Chiang Mai that was really authentic as well. A local told us about it, and we ate things we’ve never heard of before! We actually ran into someone that we knew there, and we ended up all drinking Mekong Whiskey with Fanta, and beer, and eating all these crazy dishes like fermented noodles and sour pork. It was all so good! We really challenged ourselves to try things that we’ve never tasted before and we were wowed!
In what ways did the trip inspire you food-wise?
I told our Executive Chef, Mathew, that we’re going to do a whole Thai grazing bar! Could be simple Thai Green Curry and Jasmine rice, and really authentic curry pastes. Also, desserts like Mango Sticky Rice, which is easy to make and delicious and deep fried bananas! Of course, satays are fabulous and I’d love to little mango juice shots. Mathew is all over it!
We were also inspired by the spices of Thailand and we’re thinking of incorporating more of that in our hors d’oeuvres. People in this city really do love spice. It doesn’t have to be “Thai level” spice, but an amount that adds flavour and excitement!
I have to say that the Thai and Laotian people were full of grace and caring and community–things that we also cherish and strive to bring to our community here in Vancouver.