Flavour triumph: Thai chef whisks up victory as Asia’s Best Female Chef 2024

Photo courtesy of Thai PBS World

In a culinary coup of epic proportions, a female Thai chef has clinched the prestigious title of Asia’s Best Female Chef 2024 at the illustrious Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards.

Pichaya Soontornyanakij’s victory isn’t just about her gastronomic prowess, it’s a clarion call for breaking barriers in the male-dominated culinary sphere.

Scheduled to receive her laurels at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants gala on March 26 in Seoul, Pichaya, also known as Chef Pam, stands as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring female chefs across the globe.

William Drew, the director of content for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants expressed that Chef Pam has been serving up truly innovative cuisine, and her tasting menu is a masterclass in paying heed to heritage as well as cultural storytelling.

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Nestled in the heart of Bangkok’s Chinatown, Chef Pam’s culinary sanctuary, Potong, meaning common in Cantonese, has been lauded for its harmonious blend of tradition and avant-garde techniques. Ranked 35th in Asia and the 88th best in the world by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, Potong isn’t just a restaurant, it’s a narrative woven from the threads of history and culinary finesse.

A visit to Potong isn’t merely about indulging in Chef Pichaya’s progressive Thai-Chinese cuisine; it’s a journey through time encapsulated within a 120 year old building steeped in heritage. Once the abode of her grandfather until the late 1950s, this multi-storeyed edifice stands as a testament to the generations that have called it home.

Empowering women

But Chef Pam’s mission extends beyond the confines of her kitchen. Fuelled by a fervent desire to uplift women in the culinary realm, she has partnered with the American Women’s Club of Thailand to establish a scholarship for aspiring girls and women in rural areas, paving the way for their dreams to take flight, reported Thai PBS World.

“This award transcends mere personal achievement. It celebrates my principles, reverence for heritage, and an unwavering commitment to self-improvement.

“May this recognition serve as a clarion call for aspiring female chefs to shatter glass ceilings and kindle lofty culinary aspirations. I firmly believe that with passion and dedication, anyone can carve their path to success.”

Celebrating Chef Pam’s triumph, the Thai Embassy in Washington DC took to Facebook to highlight the meteoric rise of Thai cuisine on the global stage over the past two decades. In recent years, a burgeoning brigade of Thai chefs has left an indelible mark on foreign shores, tantalising taste buds with innovative takes on traditional recipes and audacious fusion fare.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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