Swedish boxer-turned-chef spices up Bangkok’s culinary scene

Photo courtesy of Villa Frantzén Restaurant & Bar via CNN

An ex-Swedish boxer carved a unique path from the world of Swedish Muay Thai to the heart of Bangkok’s culinary landscape.

As the executive head chef of the acclaimed Villa Frantzen, Nilas Corneliussen’s story is one of determination, passion, and a love affair with Thailand that transcends borders.

“I’m both a night and morning person. I much prefer to be in a dynamic city that never sleeps, and Bangkok gives me that.”

While his initial dreams may have revolved around the adrenaline-fuelled world of Thai boxing, fate had a different journey in store for him. After a hand injury sidelined his boxing aspirations, Corneliussen redirected his focus towards his other love: Thailand.

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“It wasn’t until halfway through my studies that I discovered my passion for cooking.”

Corneliussen recounted his serendipitous encounter with a friend running local Thai eateries. Despite initially pursuing economics to secure a visa, Corneliussen found himself drawn to the camaraderie and creativity of the kitchen.

His culinary odyssey took him from the trattorias of Stockholm to the acclaimed Noma in Copenhagen, where he honed his skills and earned accolades on the global stage. Yet, it was his return to Asia that truly ignited his culinary fire.

“In Thailand, I found a sense of belonging unlike anywhere else; it was like living in paradise every day. I hate cold weather!”

Now at Villa Frantzen, nestled in the heart of Bangkok, Corneliussen continues to weave his Nordic roots with Asian influences, crafting dishes that tantalize the senses and push culinary boundaries. From velvety beef consommé to innovative oysters with a twist, his creations reflect a dedication to perfection and an insatiable appetite for exploration, reported CNN.

Even outside the kitchen, Corneliussen’s zest for life is palpable. Whether he’s navigating Bangkok’s bustling streets or delving into its vibrant culinary scene, his infectious energy leaves an indelible mark.

As he looks to the future, the Swedish chef sees endless possibilities for Bangkok’s culinary landscape, driven by a new generation of chefs and an insatiable appetite for innovation.

“It’ll be booming even more, you have to be sharp and relevant, and that pushes restaurants forward.”

For Corneliussen, the journey from the ring to the kitchen has been anything but easy, yet his unwavering dedication has transformed his dreams into reality.

“It’s a blessing to have summer every day.”

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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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