Bangkok street food eatery earns Michelin star

Jay Fai, center, the cook and owner of a street food eatery in Bangkok, speaks to reporters after her street-side eatery was recognized with a one-star Michelin guide mark at a hotel in Bangkok on December 6. (AFP)
Updated 06 December 2017
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Bangkok street food eatery earns Michelin star

BANGKOK: In a city famous for street food, a roadside restaurant in Bangkok with plastic tables and simple but sumptuous fare has earned one of the dining scene’s highest honors: a Michelin star.
Jay Fai, named after the 72-year-old proprietor who took over from her father, is located in old Bangkok and features an open-air kitchen known for churning out crab omelets and curries.
Though classified as street food, Jay Fai is more expensive than your average roadside stall, with a typical specialty costing upwards of $20.
It was the only streetside establishment listed in Michelin’s first-ever Bangkok guide released on Wednesday, which said the Thai capital’s culinary scene was as “diverse as it is surprising.”
A total of 17 restaurants in the city serving up a mix of Thai and international cuisine received either one or two stars, though none clinched the coveted three-star rating.
Jay Fai cooks the food herself while wearing large goggles to deal with the endless steam from the dishes.
The accolade was a welcome one even if the owner was not so familiar with the company behind it.
“Before, I knew the Michelin name but I did not know it had to do with cooking,” she told AFP after obtaining the star.
“I am very proud,” she said, adding that she must be back in the kitchen Thursday. “We do not have a lot of staff because I’m a bit difficult and crazy.”
Jay Fai’s newfound stature comes at a tough time for food stalls in Bangkok. City officials, backed by the military government, are attempting to unclutter the streets by pushing vendors into hawker centers as in Singapore.


The man who leads 10 million chefs from his kitchen in Saudi Arabia

Thomas Gugler (left) is based in Saudi Arabia. (Photo supplied)
Updated 15 July 2018
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The man who leads 10 million chefs from his kitchen in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: As far as a career in food goes, Thomas Gugler seems to have done it all — from working with five-star hotels and gourmet restaurants to hospitals, airlines, mass catering and teaching in universities. Having worked in 13 different countries across the spectrum of the food and beverage industry, Gugler moved to Saudi Arabia in 2002 to join Saudi Arabian Airlines as their executive master chef. In 2009, he co-founded the Saudi Arabian Chefs Association.

“I knew I wanted to become a chef since I was two,” Gugler told Arab News. “My mother and grandmother were both fantastic cooks and that’s how I fell in love with this profession.”

He’s come a long way since he was two in his 35-year-long career, 17 of which he has spent in Saudi Arabia.

Now, as president of the World Association of Chefs Societies, he is tasked with the significant responsibility of leading more than 10 million members from across 110 countries.

“We organize worldwide cooking competitions and educational programs, as well as look into issues such as sustainability and cultural cooking. Our role is to build bridges between the commercial part and the consumers.”

With the head of such a prestigious global organization being based in Saudi Arabia, the local industry should be poised for growth, but, according to Gugler, there is plenty of room for improvement.

“Generally, the cooking and food standards here are not the best but with time and effort all this will be developed more and more,” he said.

Socio-political changes and the boost to the Saudi tourism sector will go a long way in developing the food and beverage industry, he believes.

“This will motivate and benefit the entire hospitality industry and raise the level, which is necessary. Stricter rules, regulations and food safety practices will encourage young and talented people in the industry to become better. It’s a golden opportunity,” Gugler said

His personal preference in food veers toward the local. “I like Arabic cuisine. The best kind is the cultural ethnic cuisine, the heritage of which can be traced back centuries. The local Hijazi cuisine is something no one should miss,” he said.