Chef's Talk

Chef Vincent Thierry

bangkok-best-restaurants-talks-to-vincent-thierry-chef-at-chefs-table-lebua-top25-restaurantsChef Vincent Thierry is the Head Chef at Chef's Table a 2-star Michelin restaurant in Bangkok located at lebua, the world's first luxury vertical destination. Vincent is a skilled and experienced chef originally from the picturesque and lush Loire Valley in France. He has worked in six three-Michelin-starred restaurants both in Europe and Asia including Caprice in Hong Kong and is currently the head chef at Chef's Table, a two-Michelin-starred restaurant at the lebua hotel in Bangkok.

Chef Vincent is known for his ability to blend traditional French cooking techniques with the bold flavors of Southeast Asia, and he places a strong emphasis on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients in his dishes. He has a reputation for creating innovative yet classic cuisine that pays homage to the rich history of traditional French cuisine which have earned him numerous awards and accolades.

Chef Vincent is one of the few who have achieved three prestigious Michelin stars more than once and is likely to earn another one for Chef's Table.

Was your decision to become a chef conscious or did you fall into it?

There are multiple reasons why I became a chef. While in secondary school I was not happy so during my free time, I would always bake, making cakes or pancakes and all. My first ambition was to become a pastry chef. My older brother had just started as an apprentice chef. He left our home to stay at our grandparent’s place, about 700 kilometres away, to become an apprentice. He became my role model and has definitively influenced me. During the holidays at my grandparents farm in the countryside, we prepared and cooked everything available. My grandmother prepared for us rabbit and chicken and that's where I first learned how to present plates, how to eat, how to drink, etc. I still wanted to become a pastry chef, but nearby Pontis restaurant had an apprentice opening, I applied, got the job and that's how I became a chef.

What are some emerging food trends that you're noticing?

Today, I believe, food trends are influenced by social media; it's Instagram or Facebook or whatever social media. The trend is to make the food look beautiful and the plating has become very important. Unfortunately, by focusing on the visual and look, the taste often becomes the second priority. Combining visual and the best possible taste is a real challenge. Another trends one can observe are micro herbs and flowers on top of the dishes and the smoked barbecue. Using the smoked aroma, grilled on the barbecue charcoal, Japanese style. Many fine dining restaurants have already some smoked barbecue dishes.

What are the emerging ingredients that you're using a lot these days?

It's not emerging but I recently add more acidity to my cooking, it could be vinegar, or citrus, I'm adding it to most of my preparations. As today I'm more focused on taste than 10 years ago, the acidity gives you a stronger contrast in the sauce. I always explain to my team that seasoning is one of the important aspect of cooking. There is a fine line to get it right; below the line you are missing something, above the line, it will be too sour, maybe good but too sour. And if you are "on the line", it gives the wow effect.

What would you cook at home if we were just making a laid-back dinner?

Sandwich? A nice sandwich.

What's the difference between running a restaurant in France and running one in Bangkok?

I hear this question quite often from journalists or even from customers. Honestly speaking, my answer always is that whether I was in Hong Kong or here it’s the same. I mean we can’t build the restaurant and take it to Paris or Europe but I think I won't change anything. What I'm cooking today, and definitely over the past four years can be served to anyone, Thai people as well as to foreigners or tourists. Good food with exceptional taste, it's appreciated around the world.

Do you source as much local produce as possible for the restaurant or does it have a big impact on your menu?

I used to work in Hong Kong where you have to import everything because there's no local production. In Thailand, you see farms and crops everywhere, farmers are cultivating whatever a restaurant needs. When I arrived in Thailand one of my the first big decision was to use local ingredients as much as possible. I believe that any restaurant should support and help develop the local farmer's market.

How is people's relationship with food different between France and Thailand?

We get people from all over the world coming to our restaurant in Bangkok and we try to satisfy all of them.  As more and more people are traveling they discover and know more about other cuisines, cooking and ingredients and enjoy any outstanding food French, Thai or Japanese.

Is there one dish that sums up your style?

No, hopefully, the full menu. It is difficult to pick one dish, it's difficult. I think my style should be discovered throughout the menu.

But you change your menu every six months.

No. The difference between Mezzaluna (the other Michelin starred restaurant at lebua) and us is that Chef Ryuki changes his menu every three months. At Chef's Table we don't change the full menu but introduce now dished throughout the year. The main reason for me is the seasonality of the ingredients. Since I make sure to use only premium ingredients and as the season is changing, I change some dishes. The second reason is quality, as I believe it's easier to change two or three dishes than changing 10 dishes at the same time. We've got a team but it's a major challenge to change and maintain the standard of the full menu.

Will any of the dishes you discovered recently making it to your menu?

My menu is based on seasonality;  in season I will have Jewel mushroom and I have to think about a dish with Jewel mushroom. When we get Morel mushrooms I will create a new dish. It's all about about what’s happening in the market, and what’s available.

Do you try out dishes with your family or friends or how do you try when you have an idea for a new dish?

We try and taste new dishes with friends, team members and family many times until we get it right and only then add them to the menu. It takes quite a lot of time from the ideas, forming in my head, until they are ready to be added to the menu.

What do you think are the most important qualities of a young chef?

In one word “motivation”. I won't say experience because that is not right. It’s better to hire people with little or no experience but who are very motivated and eager to learn.

What do you think of chefs like Gordon Ramsay who have taken haute cuisine to the masses?

Oh, I think he's good, we are not all Gordon Ramsays but it helps the industry to have some famous names and profiles like him promoting chefs and restaurants. Staff and guests are equally inspired by the reality shows to dine in a Michelin starred restaurant to join the sector.

What is The one cooking tool that the chef should not be without?

A knife. Very simple. The first thing you need in the kitchen is a knife.

What the best advice you have ever been given. When you started or later in your career?

“Make it better” that’s the best advice.  Sometimes I think tonight was good but tomorrow, we should make it better. That's our challenge.

Your favourite holiday destinations. In Thailand, in France, Hong Kong and wherever in the world?

My first choice would be a one-week skiing holiday with my family. I like skiing, the atmosphere of snow and mountains in the winter. It's cold outside and you can play a game in the warmth of your cabin. I was lucky to visit the Maldives and would be happy to go back there. In Thailand, I have to visit more islands to discover new destinations of "Amazing Thailand".

Your preferred hotel or resort for a quiet holiday?

Absolutely a resort. I'll say the resort is calmer and perhaps more relaxing given my busy work schedule.

What’s next for you(plans, dreams…)

I could never have imagined myself in Thailand as the Head Chef of a two-star restaurant, because when I left the three-Michelin-starred restaurant, I had no intention of returning to fine dining. Starting all over again in Thailand was kind of unexpected, but in life, you never know what’s going to happen. Let's see what happens next...


First published at TOP25 Restaurants Bangkok