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Phuket On The Menu: The Art of food



PHUKET: When checking in on Facebook one often comes across photographs of food; meals about to be consumed at restaurants and in homes. With the advent of ‘smart phones’ it seems everyone now has a camera ready to snap a shot of their dinner or their cat, or even their cat’s dinner.

Among my Facebook friends is local artist Jayda Ponlid who posts photos of food regularly, interspersed with images of her artwork. These photos show large quantities of food being prepared and while finding out why this was so, I became a regular visitor to her ‘Kitchen of Love’.

Jayda, is a very popular and very active person and uses the social network to inform her 2,300-plus followers of her daily activities.

So when her fiance, Thiwa Wa Singha, lovingly cooked traditional Thai specialties for her, using only the freshest and most authentic ingredients, she posted photos of these offerings online. Immediately some of her friends and fans wanted the recipes and even asked if she could send some of the beautifully prepared food to them to taste.

When one particularly well-heeled fan in Bangkok pleaded that she share this food, stating that money was no object, Jayda looked into the possibilities of sending food to the capital and decided to treat this as an art project. Her first dish, a pineapple fried rice, was flown to the capital for 1,000 baht a box, including delivery.

A year on, their ‘Kitchen of Love’ now sends out orders all over Thailand. Her regular clients include famous Thai movie and TV stars, singers and even royalty, but Jayda insists that she does not do this only for money and limits the orders to 29 people a day which is the maximum amount Jayda and her fiance can cope with, in order to add the magic ingredient that has people ordering weeks in advance. That ingredient is love.

“When my fiance started cooking for me I enjoyed it so much that I pretended I couldn’t cook. He is an artist like myself and each dish was made with such feeling that eventually I had to own up that I also knew how to cook and then cooked for him.” said Jayda.

Between them they now have 85 recipes and each time they cook they put all their heart and creativity into the meals, with music in the background and a few dance moves thrown in for measure.

“My mother taught me how to cook when I was very young; it was always a happy time. She used to sing while cooking and explained to me how she imagined how happy people would be when they tasted her food. Maybe these are old fashioned values, but nowadays people just don’t take the time to prepare delicious food and eat together as a family” explains Jayda as she places three huge plates of their ‘crab meat spaghetti’ on the table in front of us. The generous portions are delicious and packed with huge chunks of crab – more than I have ever had at any traditional restaurant.

Jayda notices my delight and explains that in order to get 25 kilos of crab meat she needs to buy 100 kilos of fresh crab at auction and hires sea gypsies to carefully decorticate the fragile meat. It is this attention to detail and the fact that she is at the fresh market at 4am that I am now tasting and I begin to understand why they limit orders to 29. Given the hours and quality ingredients that go into each dish, prices (which range from 650 to 1,500 baht a dish) are very reasonable.

Phuket customers must make their order online before midnight on Thursday and collect the still-warm prepared food on Friday between 5-10pm. I have done this a few times and have run into a few local celebs, including the owner of a famous five-star resort, arriving at the same time.

Customers from the rest of Thailand get their orders in from Monday to Wednesday and through a complex system of delivery – involving airplanes, motorcycles and dry ice – receive their ‘food parcel’ at home as can be seen by the photos of happy recipients on her Facebook page.

What started out as a three-week art project has now turned into a thriving business, yet Jayda still finds time to take care of her eight dogs; three kids; art gallery and teaching projects.

And her personal favorite dish? “That would have to be our Andaman Salad because of the colors and taste. In with the multi-colored salad leaves are crab meat, fish, shrimp, seaweed, oysters, shrimp roe and lemon. A feast for the eyes and the palate and a real taste of Phuket.” she enthuses.

As for future projects Jayda and her fiance have a couple of exhibitions coming up in Bangkok and Taiwan, then plan to instate an intimate single table concept in their own garden where a bespoke romantic evening meal is prepared while the pampered guests chat among the rose bushes knowing that they are the only patrons that evening receiving 100 per cent attention.

Such an evening can only be found at the unique and aptly named ‘Kitchen of Love’.

For more information visit Jayda’s Facebook page, or call her on 089 289 8852.

Keep checking our Phuket Lifestyle and events calendar pages for the latest happenings across the island. Join our Facebook fan page or follow us at @PhuketGazette .

— Marc Mulloy


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