Admiration for one of Thailand’s culinary stars

Working for three years in Bangkok gave me the chance to form a relationship with Thailand, its wonderful people and its exquisite cuisine.

Thailand’s first celebrity chef is Ian Pongtawat Chalermkittichai. “Chef Ian,” as he is known, was formerly executive chef at Four Seasons Bangkok. We dropped in to see him en route back from our vacation in Phuket at his restaurant Issaya Siamese Club.

Chef Ian also is one of the stars of Thailand’s “Iron Chef.” The TV program is hugely popular in Thailand, attracting as many as 15 million viewers per episode. During one recent show, competing chefs were presented with an everyday ingredient: alligator!

Amongst the many sensational dishes we ate at Issaya, a banana blossom salad stood out.

The banana blossoms are mixed with hearts of palm, crispy shallots, roasted peanuts and chili jam. It was sensational, and simply put, dinner at Issaya will be one of the most memorable food experiences you will ever have.