Ian Chalermkittichai brought his brilliance to a new venue when he became the first Thai executive chef of Shintaro, the sushi bar and restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok. Nicknamed “The Golden Boy” in 2001 by the Bangkok Post, he created a modern Thai cuisine subtly enhanced by Japanese influences. He is now the Executive Chef of Kittichai, the authentic modern Thai restaurant in New York City.
What does your knife mean to you?
I do a lot of chopping and a lot of slicing, so a sharp knife gives me confidence. I want to keep selecting more Japanese knives for my kitchen. What do you like about Japanese knives? I have a Yanagi that handles well and I use it every day.We do 300 covers a night here sometimes and we have only one person doing meat. Hangar steak, duck, filet mignon, pork, chicken…my Korin knife slices it all. Have you used Japanese cooking and kitchen tools aside from the knives? We use a lot of unique Japanese cooking tools but we adapt everything to our own situation. We use the Ishiyaki Stone for tabletop grilling, the Konro grills with Kamisuki Nabe (paper pot) for soups and a lot of ramekins for small dishes. These techniques may be new to Westerners but they derive from old cooking methods that still work. What made you want to be a chef ? When I was 13 years old, I used to drive my mother to the green market in the mornings. I’d join her on her pushcart after school, selling curries around town. At 16 I went to London to study and got a dishwashing job part time. One night a chef didn’t show up and I offered to help in the kitchen.The manager came in and asked me if I wanted to be a chef. I always knew I could make a successful restaurant, even before I finished school.