Cooking Thai with Celebrity Chef – David Thompson

The following article excerpt is from the Sydney Morning Herald, the leading daily newspaper in Sydney, Australia. It introduces us to David Thompson, chef and owner of the Nahm Thai restaurants in Bangkok and London.


David Thompson’s London restaurant, Nahm was the first in the world to win a Michelin star for Thai food, but the Australian chef says his two-decade love affair with the cuisine was almost accidental.

It started on a holiday to the country more than 20 years ago. ”Bit by bit I became seduced or caught in the thrall of Thai cooking,” David Thompson says. It’s not something he consciously considered. If he had, he says, laughing, ”I would have run a mile”.

Having immersed himself in Thai cuisine and food culture for two decades, Thompson is considered one of the foremost Western chefs on the subject, with two books, Thai Food and Thai Street Food.

Thompson opened Darley Street Thai in Sydney before making his name in London at the Michelin-starred Nahm. Partner Tanongsak Yordwai is Thai, and in 2010 the pair moved to Bangkok and opened a second Nahm, taking high-end Thai food to Thailand. He now calls Bangkok home.

”I’ve been coming here three or four months every year for the last 20 years,” Thompson says. ”We moved back here three years ago, so here is home.”

Outside Bangkok is Thompson’s farm where he grows obscure Thai herbs, ”stuff that’s hard to get in the marketplace”, regional plants that don’t grow in Bangkok, ”arcane herbs” and others that have fallen out of fashion.

He is excited about the farm and would do more with it if he didn’t have to run between the land and his restaurant in the city. ”I’d love to spend time out there … rolling in the mud,” he says. ”Wallowing in the mud would be fantastic but alas, I am in the centre of Bangkok, unable to wallow.”

Wallowing time looks unlikely in the future, with Thompson working on a television series for the ABC about Thai street food. His sights are also set on Hong Kong, where he plans to open a new venture based on Thai street food.

”I’m not avant-garde at all, I’d rather have a nice curry and a bowl of rice,” he says. ”So there’ll be no machines. The most complicated machine … will be a pestle and mortar.”

Asked why Thai chefs have not yet stepped up to claim their place in the spotlight, he points to Ian Kittichai, who is known particularly in New York. More widely, the language barrier remains a problem. ”I might be able to articulate a little bit more elegantly in English, maybe, than Thais might,” Thompson says. ”I can throw a few sentences together like I can throw a few ingredients together.” He is self-deprecating about his place in the pecking order.


Thompson says Thailand is ”just about the food”, with corridors of restaurants on the main thoroughfares of Bangkok. One of his current favourite dishes is charred squid and glass noodles with chopped herbs such as Asian celery, spring onions and coriander.

”There’s this wonderful shop up behind Chulalongkorn University that does the most delicious fish dumplings. They make the wonton wrapper out of fish meat mixed with tapioca flour … It’s delicious, really lovely stuff. Thai food is as complicated and diverse as Italian food … Read more: Sydney Morning Herald – Entertainment

Article Source: Sydney Morning Herald – Entertainment

Image Source: Sydney Morning Herald – Entertainment

… in the following video, David Thompson shows us how to make a Red Curry paste.

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