DINE & WINE
Over the past few years, exclusive meals prepared by five-star chefs at the privacy of the diners' own home have become more and more in favour among well-off gourmands in Thailand.
Chalerm and Daranee Yoovidhya with the chef team, from left, Erwin Eberharter of Dusit Thani Bangkok, Aurelien Poirot of Sofitel Sukhumvit, Michael Hogan of JW Marriott Bangkok, Jose Borja of Renaissance Ratchaprasong, Thibault Chiumenti of Plaza Athenee Bangkok, Freddy Schmidt of Conrad Bangkok, Norbert Kostner of the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, Nicolas Schneller of Fours Seasons Hotel Bangkok, Frank Bohdan of Shangri-la Hotel Bangkok, Leslie Stronach of InterContinental Bangkok, and Philippe Gaudal of Landmark Hotel Bangkok.
This is thanks to the Bangkok Chefs Charity Gala Dinner, which was first launched in 2009 and has been a great gastronomic and philanthropic success since.
It's a tradition at this grand-scaled annual affair, presided over by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and attended by 250 altruists, that at the end of the evening some big-hearted guests will be announced the winners of the grand auction. With their proffers (as well as all the proceeds from the event) going to the improvement of lives and education of children at remote schools around the country, the highest bidders are awarded with the opportunity to choose their favourite chefs from the participating five-star hotels to come cook a gourmet meal at their residences.
For three years, the Yoovidhyas have been among the top benefactors.
In 2009, Chalerm and Daranee Yoovidhya stopped the auction at the inaugural Bangkok Chefs Charity Gala Dinner event with a 1 million baht proffer. Four executive chefs, led by Norbert Kostner of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Bangkok, were then chosen to be at the couple's mansion a few months later to prepare a birthday dinner for Chalerm, the master of the house and also of the Red Bull empire and Siam Winery.
In 2011, the couple got to welcome a group of culinary virtuosos again to their place. Following their 4.2-million-baht bid at the third edition of the Bangkok Chefs Charity, 11 chefs and 20 crew members from Bangkok's top hotels travelled to the family's resort home in Bang Saen, Chon Buri, to serve up a 14-course meal for a party of 32 guests.
The Yoovidhyas' latest prize is a consequence of their 4.5 million baht donation at last year's event.
Received two weekends ago amidst the sound of waves and breezy coastal weather at their holiday villa in Hua Hin, the dinner made specially for the Red Bull family may be regarded as one of the most lavish yet most homely auctioned chef's meals ever to have taken place.
The banquet was put up by a team of 12 celebrated five-star hotel chefs, namely Norbert Kostner of the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, Michael Hogan of JW Marriott Bangkok, Leslie Stronach of InterContinental Bangkok, Erwin Eberharter of Dusit Thani Bangkok, Mark Hagenbach of Grand Hyatt Erawan, Jose Borja of Renaissance Ratchaprasong, Nicolas Schneller of Fours Seasons Bangkok, Philippe Gaudal of Landmark Hotel Bangkok, Thibault Chiumenti of Plaza Athenee Bangkok, Frank Bohdan of Shangri-la Hotel Bangkok, Freddy Schmidt of Conrad Hotel Bangkok, and Aurelien Poirot of Sofitel Sukhumvit.
It featured an extravagant line-up of savoury and sweet delicacies prepared by the executive chefs themselves at the villa's newly set professional kitchen. Among an extensive variety of dishes, diners were seen revelling in pan-roasted prawns with white asparagus fondant; porcini (from the south of Spain) veloute with truffle cappuccino and hazelnut duck cromesquis; paper-thin porcini mushroom agnolotti with rosemary pan jus; Spanish paella with seafood and pork belly; roasted chicken (from Bresse) with tarragon butter; clams and bouchot mussels (from France) in white wine sauce; roasted Easter lamb (from Mont Saint Michelle) with needle beans; and fried zucchini flowers (from Hua Hin Hills Vineyard) filled with burrata (from Italy), to name just a few.
To match the culinary excellence, service for that special Saturday evening was also delivered with five-star perfection. The dinner was efficiently attended by a team of 16 service staff in neat uniforms from the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, who always made sure all 20 guests were well taken care of.
However, despite all the exquisiteness, the Yoovidhyas wanted this year's gastronomic gathering to be very casual. So instead of being set in a neatly-clad air conditioned dining room with a long dinner table, the meal was served at the villa's open-air, beach-front pavilion and enjoyed in an intimate communal manner among only family members.
Chef Norbert, who has been chosen by the Yoovidhyas whenever they've won the auction, said: "It's always a great joy cooking for Khun Chalerm and his family at his house. Although Khun Chalerm was the one who chose most of the main ingredients, he often left the menu selection for us chefs to create.
"Because this year's dinner was focused on relatives gathering and with many dishes, like the clams and mussels, the paella and the porcini mushroom agnolotti, perfect for sharing, I suggested to him that he might want to make it more intimate and fun by having the meal in family-sharing style. We would serve big platters of food in the middle of the table and everyone is welcome to casually dig in," Norbert said.
This style of serving is also perfect for al fresco dining, he said, given that it's hard to control the temperature of the food, especially when you have to plate it one by one for individual diners, in the open-air setting.
The warm kinship apparently extended to the cooking quarter. Similar to the dining room ambiance, the spacious kitchen occupied by multi-national chefs was filled with camaraderie and laughter.
"It's hard to find anywhere else in the world where a group of executive chefs from top hotels are working and helping together without their alter egos.
"At the end of the day, it's for charity and it's only the pleasure of our guests that counts," said Norbert with a big smile.
Chefs Erwin Eberharter, Leslie Stronach and Philippe Gaudal pan-roasting the prawns.
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About the author
- Writer: Vanniya Sriangura
Position: News Reporter