By The Nation
“This award represents part of our wider engagement programme aiming to promote strong role models who can inspire future generations of cooks. Chef Bee is doing just that with her bold and authentic Thai cooking in one of the world’s greatest food cities,” said William Drew, group editor of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.
A self-taught chef, Bongkoch honed her culinary skills while working in her family’s restaurant. Since opening the original Paste in 2013 with her Australia-born chef husband Jason Bailey, Bongkoch has committed herself to educating diners on the complexity, layers and refined flavours of Thai cuisine. The couple went on to open the current incarnation of the restaurant in Bangkok’s Gaysorn Village luxury mall in 2015.
Dedicated to honouring culinary traditions, Bongkoch references centuries-old Thai cookbooks to revive long-forgotten recipes and rare ingredients. Drawing inspiration from royal Thai cuisine, she brings an artisanal approach to her cooking. As well as sourcing fresh produce from local growers, curry pastes are made in-house and food is smoked with lychee wood, coconut husks and coconut meat.
Renowned for her technical expertise and creative flair, Bongkoch creates dishes that are defined by their authentic flavours, contrasting textures and attention to detail. Striking a delicate balance between tradition and innovation, she reinterprets traditional Thai cuisine in a modern context, combining ancient and contemporary techniques alongside surprising twists.
“My dream has always been to introduce the world to an elevated version of Thai cuisine. While I am surprised and shocked to receive this award, it inspires me for the future,” she said.
Previous holders of the Asia’s Best Female Chef title include Duangporn “Bo” Songvisava from Thailand (2013), Lanshu Chen from Taiwan (2014), Hong Kong’s Vicky Lau (2015), Margarita Fores of the Philippines (2016) and May Chow from Hong Kong (2017).