Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Sitting at JW Marriott’s Cafe, I look down on my plate and see a piece of art. Ingredients are elaborately piled up to form a miniature sculpture, and there are swooshes of sauce and sprinkles of spices, all resembling a contemporary painting. On top of these visual impressions, is the aroma rising to my nostrils and soon after, the explosion of flavor on my palate. When visiting a museum or an art gallery, we often admire the skill and talent of the artist just as much as the piece itself. Great food and great chefs deserve the same respect.

I often hear complaints that Phuket lacks cultural events like art exhibitions, live music or theater performances. This might be true, but I do know of at least one form of art that does prevail on our island, and in great shape – the art of food. The recent Gourmet Weekend organized by JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa, was a perfect example.

Three days of food workshops and feasts provided Phuket gourmets with heaps of excitement. But, what exactly is a gourmet? Is it someone who enjoys great food? Well, who doesn’t love great food? Then, is it someone who knows their flambe from their deglaze? Maybe.

What I believe is at the heart of a gourmet, though, is respect.

A visit to the kitchens of JW Marriott Cafe during the final dinner of the Gourmet Weekend was a lesson of that respect.

Seeing 30 or so chefs and cooks running amok to please the 80-odd guests present at the event was an unforgettable site. Like some mystical machine covered in grease and puffing clouds of steam, the kitchen team released one dish after another: organic prawn with yuzu miso foam from Chef Norio Nomoto of JW Marriott Bangkok; a rack of lamb topped with spicy holy basil by Chef Nooror Somany-Steppe from Blue Elephant restaurant; and warm rabbit rillettes with heirloom carrot and jalapeno comfit, a creation of Chef Tim Butler of Eat Me restaurant in Bangkok, all cooked to perfection and delivered to our tables sprinkled with passion.

This is but the final stage of the entire, elaborate process of preparing a meal. What comes before is a work of a small army of people united by one common goal. The farmers, the butchers and the bakers who deliver the best of ingredients, the vintners who spare no time and effort to ferment their grape juice to perfection, the chefs who spend endless hours coming up with the most creative and sophisticated recipes, and the list continues. Add to that centuries of culinary traditions, stories behind each dish, perfect timing from kitchen to table, and you might never look at your plate the same way again.

This article first appeared in the November 22-28 issue of the hard-copy Phuket Gazette newspaper. Digital subscribers may download the full newspaper, this week and every week, by clicking here.

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— Maciek Klimowicz

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