In his nearly 15 years of professional experience in the kitchen, Prasong Thaochan has had the chance to live overseas and explore the cuisines of the world. Now, as Executive Thai Sous Chef overseeing the opening of Baan Talay Restaurant at Angsana Laguna Phuket resort, he returns to his Thai roots.
Born and raised in Phuket, Chef Prasong started cooking at a young age under the guidance of his mother. He honed his skills in the kitchen at a five-year work-study culinary course at Phuket Vocational College, and since then he has been a presence in the Bang Tao Beach area, first working with the Laguna Beach Resort, then moving to the Banyan Tree Phuket as Commis Chef for two years, where he was involved with the resort’s luxury banquets and events.
Chef Prasong gained his first international experience working at a Thai restaurant in England, then he brought his talents in Thai cuisine to help with the opening of a Thai restaurant at Banyan Tree Mayakoba in Mexico. While working in Mexico, he enjoyed sampling the many varieties of chillies in the Latin American country in his quest to find just the right spicy flavours for his Thai dishes. Outside of Thailand, it can be a challenge to source the fresh ingredients essential to Thai cooking. In working abroad Chef Prasong learned to improvise, as well as adapt the flavours to suit local tastes. Back at Baan Talay, however, Chef Prasong’s talents in authentic Thai cuisine have the perfect setting in which to thrive, especially with the rich Andaman Sea at his doorstep bringing forth an abundance of delectable seafood every day.
Under Chef Prasong’s initiative to offer the freshest possible choices, Baan Talay guests select their own seafood as it swims including lobster, tiger prawns and black crabs from the restaurant’s live tanks. Delicious fresh seafood forms the first step in building a perfect Thai meal. The next steps require diligence and a delicate balancing act. As famed Thai cuisine connoisseur David Thompson once said, “Thai food ain’t about simplicity.” Truly Thai fare contains a diverse and complex set of flavours in a single dish. “With Thai food, you have three or four flavours in your mouth at once,” Chef Prasong says.
As an example, he explains that the dish Pla Gao Rhad Prik, crispy grouper with spicy tamarind sauce, is made with tamarind paste and sugar, fish sauce, garlic, coriander, soy and oyster sauce, plus red and green bird-eye chillies. To achieve a flavour that is spicy, sour, salty and sweet all at once requires a great deal of skill and depth of knowledge.
Chef Prasong has been honing and perfecting this dish since childhood. He proudly recalls making Pla Gao Rhad Prik for his teacher at the age of nine, his first triumph as a chef. He learned everything from his mother, he says, who always urged him to “put more, put more”, to add as much flavour as possible. Pla Gao Rhad Prik is now a signature dish of Baan Talay restaurant and a guest favourite.
Other Thai favourites that Chef Prasong has developed for Baan Talay’s extensive menu include a Thai assorted starter set for two with shrimp cake, chicken Satay, vegetable spring roll, onion ring and green mango salad; Yam Talay, a flavourful Thai seafood salad; the spicy Gaeng Daeng Goong Yod Ma-Praw, white shrimp in red curry with eggplant and palm heart, plus the milder Gaeng Garee Gai, chicken in yellow curry with potatoes and onions. Among the selection of desserts is Tub Tim Grob, scrum water chestnut in coconut syrup and coconut ice cream.
In addition to Thai fare, Baan Talay’s design also highlights Thai culture and style. The air-conditioned interior features a relaxed yet elegant ambiance with a vaulted Northern Thai style ceiling and elaborately carved wooden panels on the walls. The delightful Thai eating style of sharing dishes is part of the Baan Talay experience, and its two private rooms with round tables are ideal for groups to enjoy a shared meal in seclusion. Guests are also given the chance to see Chef Prasong’s team in action in the open kitchen at the centre of the restaurant. More tables are set out on the expansive terrace space for dining under the stars.
Situated at the beachside fringe of Angsana Laguna Phuket just behind XANA Beach Club, Baan Talay welcomes not only resort guests but many visitors and residents who walk in off the beach or catch a lift across the lagoon on shuttle boats that bring them directly to the restaurant’s jetty.
Chef Prasong’s background in events and its inspiring location makes Baan Talay well positioned for weddings or special functions of any size, up to 1,500 people if the venue is combined with the beachfront XANA Beach Club. Whether he’s preparing a meal for one guest or a thousand Chef Prasong’s passion for food remains steadfast. “I love to cook,” he says. “And when I see people happy to eat then I feel happy.”
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