Your welcome is warm in Thai or English, the mood and music are mellow. A cocktail feels right, perhaps a classic margarita.
At your table everything is personal, the service gliding and silky: immaculate linen, heavy cutlery, soft butter and warm bread rolls.
Everything is just so.
The food is all you imagined.
You won’t find Chef O anywhere else but in the engine room. In jeans and shirt he is kind to everybody during prep. His kitchen is a warm and friendly place and he is loved and adored by all. Yet, when it’s time to cook, so the tension starts to build, the sparks begin to fly and Chef O might scream and shout a little. It’s nothing personal. That’s the way of any creative environment, where daily perfection to tight deadlines is the everyday aim.
Chef O’s favourite thing to cook is beef in all its variations. For beef bourguignon, for example, he makes a batch of sauce that starts out at 50 litres and is slowly reduced to 10 litres over a period of 48 hours. There is no compromise; no hasty concoction is allowed. The lengthy process is necessary for the required smell, perfect colour and sublime taste.
When it’s all over for the night Chef O gets on his bike.
I’m a Londoner, from Chelsea, and I came to Thailand 18 years ago. In England I worked in theatre, winning awards at the Edinburgh Festival in 1976 and 1982 and l also worked as Assistant Director at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Sir Rex Harrison once fired me on a Friday for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but he re-hired me the following Monday and we became great friends.
I owned a bookshop in Salisbury for three years and then trained as a drug and alcohol counsellor, at one time caring for 119 single homeless men in a London hostel.
In Chiang Mai I taught English to monks at Wat Suan Dok and met Prom, my future wife. Together we set up a new restaurant in the countryside. Later, we bought the first David’s Kitchen when it became available and met Chef O who is now our partner. Soon the restaurant was full every day and we moved here.
We are not a Sir or Madam establishment. It’s a family run restaurant where we treat guests as we would friends in our home. Since opening last November we have been fully booked every single night. We hope David’s Kitchen will run and run.
Khun Prom’s Story
I first met David when I was cooking in a restaurant in Chiang Mai. According to him it was love at first sight. He came back the next day and asked me to have dinner with him. I said no.
The following day he came to the restaurant to ask me to lunch. I said no. For the remainder of the week he came every day to ask me for coffee, to go for a walk, to go shopping. I said no, no, no.
After several months he discovered where I lived in the countryside and visited me every weekend for nearly a year. The first time he took me to lunch most of my family came with us. For six months he kept an engagement ring in his pocket and eventually, when my family members accepted him, David and I went for a quiet walk and he asked me to marry him. I said yes. When we got home the party was already in full swing. Everybody knew what my answer would be. We have been together now for ten years and have a son of 8 and a daughter aged 6.
I am a professionally trained chef and the pastry chef at David’s Kitchen, responsible for all the desserts. We might be the only place in Chiang Mai to offer sticky toffee pudding, an English favourite that David introduced, but all our puddings are popular.
Chef O’s Story
I wanted to be a chef from the beginning. I come from a family of cooks. Twenty years ago it was a good career to be in. There was good money to be made and you always had work. As a young man I left Chiang Mai to work in a small hotel in Krabi. I was responsible for the quality of the meat and seafood and I learned the restaurant business and how to cook Thai food.
After the tsunami I moved around Thailand picking up experience and learning new skills. In Chiang Mai I applied to the Mandarin Dhara Devi and when they failed to reply I turned up in person and showed them what I could do. They hired me.
For five years Chef Dominique from France and Chef Simon from Germany gave me a classical training, the best in the world. I was ambitious, and promotion was slow to come so I opened my own place called “I Cook”.
A colleague showed me an ad in the Bangkok Post for a chef at David’s Kitchen. I went to David’s house and cooked beef cheek and prawns in blue cheese sauce. David and Prom hired me.
Now I’m a partner and I’ve been part of the family for two years from the very beginning of David’s Kitchen. I’m a big bike fanatic and my Ducati is my pride and joy. My aim is to keep this place full by consistently cooking great food.