Chef Duangporn (Bo) Songvisava

Chef Duangporn (Bo) Songvisava

Chef Duangporn (Bo) Songvisava has always had a passion and desire to create exceptional Thai food. After completing her Masters in Gastronomy in Adelaide, she first joined the team at Cy’an in the Metropolitan hotel Bangkok. From there she moved to London to work under David Thompson at his highly acclaimed restaurant Nahm, and it was here she met her Australian-born husband and current business partner Dylan Jones. Together they solidified their plan to open a truly remarkable Thai restaurant in her mother country, called Bo.lan.

Bo.lan was opened in early 2009 and since its very beginning Chef Bo has been campaigning to raise awareness for important issues regarding Thai food and food security. Bo and Dylan want to reclaim and revive farming techniques and recipes nearly forgotten in the globalization of popular Thai food, and they’re succeeding. Due to its authentic style and their incredible dishes, Bo.lan has been recognized with a Michelin Star and currently holds the number 19 spot on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Chef Bo was also presented with the inaugural award for Asia’s Best Female Chef as part of The 50 Best Restaurants in Asia Awards and was featured in an incredible episode of Netflix’ most recent season of Chef’s Table. But, despite all the accolades and recognition, Chef Bo’s one true goal in the kitchen is one thing and one thing only: to cook for the sake of food.

First things first, with a beautiful name like Duangporn Songvisava, where does the nickname Bo come from?
“Well, Bo is actually a very common nickname in Thailand and I happen to be one of them.”

Born and Raised in?
“Bangkok, Thailand”

What did your parents do?
“They were business owners, they ran a canning machinery.”

Who inspired you to become a chef?
“My parents did.”

What was your first job ever in a kitchen?
“I was put in charge of washing and picking herbs and I absolutely loved it.”

Do you think it’s necessary for a chef to have an example or someone to look up to in order to become successful?
Yes, it is necessary for chefs to have an inspiring mentor. I wouldn’t say that without one you cannot become successful, but it is more sustainable success if you do have one. Mine are Amanda Gale and David Thompson.”

After spending time in London and moving back to Thailand to open Bo.Lan with your partner Dylan, was it an easy transition or did you experience somewhat of a reverse culture shock coming back home?
“My biggest re-adjustment has been putting the effort in understanding and accepting the work mentality in the Thai hospitality industry. And with that the professionalism here I’d say. The most shocking adjustment is the quality of ingredients and the process of sorting out suppliers.”

What is the best part of living and working in Bangkok?
“Bangkok means I can get most of the ingredients I would like to use sent to me. There are so many different audiences for restaurants and it’s great living close to my parents. The Thai culture, especially related to food, just means everything to me.”

How do you source for your products and make sure you get exactly what you want?
“We talk to producers, we spend time learning their craft and we make sure we understand their process. To do so we visit their farms and we really build a relationship with them.”

If you hadn’t become a chef, what do you think would you be doing right now?
“I would love to have been a professional equestrian or a full-time food activist.”

What part of your personality comes through most in your work?
“My hot-temperedness and very self-centeredness.”

What’s it like working so closely together with your partner every day? Does it effect home life at all or do you keep those two lives separate?
“The two lives merges into one, I guess. But it’s fun to work with Dylan.”

Since both parents are chefs, if your kids come to you one day saying they’d like to be chefs too, what would your response be?
“I’d say: be what you’d like to be.”

 

What do you enjoy when you are not cooking?
“Resting.”

Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
“Condensed milk with deep-fried dough.”

When people visit Thailand, what’s the one thing they should really try? 
“Chili relish of any kind.”

What should they really not try?
“Street food that’s loaded with shit produce and flavor enhancers of any kind; msg, disodium etc.”

What has been your favorite dish you’ve ever made, inside or outside a restaurant kitchen?
“Stir-fried pork with shrimp paste and Sator bean. It’s Moorish and it really shows off the quality of the ingredients. Plus, I don’t have to do much.”
[Scroll down for recipe!]

Who would you still like to cook for that you haven’t yet?
“No-one I think. Those who I like to cook for I have cooked for already.”

What advice would you give a starting chef?
“Cook for the sake of food, flavor and the environment. Do not cook for stars, nor for being in the list(s).”

You received a Michelin star, were presented with the inaugural award for Asia’s Best Female Chef, were just featured in a great episode of Chef’s Table, what do all these accolades mean to you?
“They mean I do not have to do molecular gastronomy or be so post-modern to be current.”

What’s next?
“I’m working on a cookbook.”

For a true taste of Thailand during your next Bangkok visit, make sure to snag your reservation at Bo.Lan in time. For more behind the scenes pictures and incredible food inspiration, get on your Instagram and find @bo.lan_essentially_thai. For the recipe of Chef Bo’s favorite stir-fried Pork with Shrimp Paste and Sator Bean make sure to scroll down!

 

 

Bo.lan
24 Soi Sukhumvit 53  
Klongtonnua, Wattana
Bangkok 10110
Thailand
Tel: +66 2 260 2962
www.bolan.co.th 

 

 

 

 

Stir-fried Pork with Shrimp Paste and Sator Bean 

Chef Duangporn (Bo) Songvisava has always had a passion and desire to create exceptional Thai food. After completing her Masters in Gastronomy in Adelaide, she first joined the team at Cy’an in the Metropolitan hotel Bangkok. From there she moved to London to work under David Thompson at his highly acclaimed restaurant Nahm, and it was here she met her Australian-born husband and current business partner Dylan Jones. Together they solidified their plan to open a truly remarkable Thai restaurant in her mother country, called Bo.Lan...
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat

Ingredients

Chili paste ingredients

Red Mouse Shit Chilies (prik kee noo)
Garlic
Shallot
Shrimp paste
Coriander roots

Wok ingredients:

Fragrance oil
Chilli paste
Minced pork
Minced prawn
Sator bean
Kefir lime leave
Lime wedges
Fish sauce
Palm sugar

Instructions

Combine all paste ingredients and roughly pound into paste and set aside. In the wok, add oil and the paste. Fry paste till the shallot is cooked. Then add minced pork and minced prawn. Add Sator bean and stir well.  Season with fish sauce and palm sugar. Add Kefir lime leave and finish with lime juice. Serve with rice.

Chef Bo

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