By The Nation
Starting this month, the group will focus on the flavours of southern Thailand, including an educational trip that will allow its international chefs to experience this exotic region and its exquisite cuisine first-hand.
From Sunday (July 7) through July 12, the company will lead chefs from COCA and Mango Tree restaurants in 13 countries to southern Thailand for a gastronomic journey of discovery that includes workshops, farm visits, tasting sessions and training. They will be able to learn about the native ingredients, cooking techniques and culture, as well as joining the locals for a series of demonstrations.
This immersive educational comes ahead of the launch of a new southern Thai menu, which will be rolled out across its global collection of restaurants in October this year.
One of the kingdom's four culinary regions, southern Thailand is famous for its intense aromas, tangy sourness and spicy heat. Due to its geography – a peninsula lapped by the Andaman Sea to the west and the Gulf of Thailand to the east – the south is also famous for its fresh seafood, while Malay and Chinese influences also feature strongly. Popular dishes include gaeng som (tamarind curry), kua kling (spicy ground meat with curry paste) and khao yam (rice salad).
“Southern Thailand has evolved a distinctive style of cuisine that is unlike any other part of the country. Its seafaring heritage has created dishes that exude an international style, while the area’s large Muslim population has added rich cultural characteristics,” said Trevor MacKenzie, COCA & Mango Tree Restaurants' Global Managing Director. "We look forward to giving our chefs the opportunity to experience southern Thailand first-hand. This will help us to create completely authentic dishes in our restaurants worldwide."
The company's educational trip kicks off on Sunday when the culinary professionals arrive in Bangkok for a welcome dinner. The following morning, the group will fly south to Nakhon Si Thammarat, where they will stay in Baan Laem, a self-sufficient fishing community, and learn the insights of the region's cultural diversity. The afternoon will include a tour of a bao mango farm and a southern curry paste workshop, demonstrating how to create the province's unique flavours.
The next day, following a morning boat tour to observe the fishermen's way of life, the team will head to Surat Thani, where they will learn how to make salted duck eggs – a local specialty. The chefs will also be able to experience life in a seaside community, learn the art of making shrimp paste, and take part in a coconut workshop, which will highlight one of southern Thai cookery's most important ingredients. They will then fly back to Bangkok on Wednesday (July 10).
Throughout their journey through southern Thailand, COCA and Mango Tree's chefs will be hosted in homestay accommodation, further enhancing their connection with each destination.
On their return to the Thai capital, the team will be able to put their newly-acquired skills to the test with an all-day training session at Mango Tree's headquarters, which will teach them how to create nine dishes from the new southern Thai menu. Finally, a workshop will introduce the group's latest concepts, including brunch, vegan cuisine and dessert menus, before the chefs bid farewell to Bangkok with an evening farewell dinner.