Where Jamie gets his yum­mies



THE BANGKOK branch of Jamie’s Ital­ian, the restau­rant chain owned by Bri­tish celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, fol­lows the essence of his phi­los­o­phy – re­ly­ing strictly on freerange, sus­tain­able and eth­i­cally pro­duced in­gre­di­ents.

Since the restau­rant’s opening late last year at Siam Dis­cov­ery, man­age­ment and cooks have worked closely with lo­cal farms in ad­her­ing to that ap­proach.

“More than 70 per cent of the pro­duce we use here is lo­cal,” says gen­eral man­ager Sarah Smith.

“Food stan­dards and nu­tri­tion go hand in hand at Jamie’s Ital­ian. An­i­mal wel­fare and sus­tain­abil­ity are par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant to us. Our head chef, Alex Bar­man, is al­ways look­ing for lo­cal sup­pli­ers who fit in with our food ethos.”

The free-range, herb-fed pork comes from Sloane’s, the cheese from Mille Stelle, the breads from Mai­son Jean Philippe, and the fruit and veg­eta­bles from Del­ish.

The chicken ar­rives from the Sirin sus­tain­able farm in Chi­ang Rai run by Songkran Grachangne­tara and his ac­tress wife Kathaleeya.

The cou­ple fol­low the prin­ci­ples of “Korean nat­u­ral farm­ing”, which takes ad­van­tage of indige­nous bac­te­ria, fungi, ne­ma­todes and protozoa to pro­duce fer­tile soil that yields high out­put with­out the need for her­bi­cides or pes­ti­cides.

“A lot of dif­fer­ent pro­ce­dures are in­volved in meet­ing the food stan­dards of Jamie’s Ital­ian,” says Songkran. “They pay at­ten­tion to ev­ery de­tail, from farm­ing meth­ods and feed­ing and butcher­ing to hy­giene.

“We started this farm to raise healthy and high-qual­ity pro­duce for our own chil­dren. We don’t want them eat­ing eggs and chicken that have been in­jected with hor­mones. So we be­gan breed­ing Bresse chick­ens and started sell­ing them on the mar­ket two years ago.”

The 50-rai farm in Muang Chi­ang Rai has sev­eral thou­sand chick­ens raised on home­grown fer­mented feed, mostly corn. They also raise pure, cer­ti­fied Berkshire pigs and Low­line An­gus cat­tle, though not yet enough to meet mar­ket de­mand. They grow jas­mine rice too, and ex­pect to have enough to take it to mar­ket next year.

“The farm is zero-waste be­cause we fol­low the Korean method of nat­u­ral farm­ing,” says Songkran. “Through the magic of EM [ef­fi­cient mi­cro-or­gan­isms], all our an­i­mal waste is con­verted into the best or­ganic fer­tiliser na­ture can pro­duce. So we don’t have to use an­tibi­otics, growth hor­mones or chem­i­cal fer­tilis­ers.”

Sirin Farm’s chick­ens de­velop for about 65 days be­fore going to mar­ket, more than twice as long as those raised in­dus­tri­ally. The birds grow to at least two kilo­grams in weight, on feed that con­tains no ar­ti­fi­cial colour­ing or flavour­ing. Songkran says the meat is suc­cu­lent and the chick­ens’ skin has a unique bright-yel­low tinge.

Chick­ens and eggs are de­liv­ered di­rectly to the cus­tomer’s door and the chef’s restau­rant.

Some of those birds end up as Chicken al Mat­tone at Jamie’s, a top seller at Bt540.

You get half a mar­i­nated, grilled chicken with lemony rocket and Parme­san, plus a choice be­tween creamy wild-mush­room sauce or a spicy com­bi­na­tion of tomato, aubergine and black olive.

The tra­di­tional Tus­can dish in­volves grilling the meat un­der a brick, whose weight keeps it pressed against the grate. The re­sult is smoky, juicy and in­tensely flavoured chicken with crisp skin.

Chicken Cae­sar Salad (Bt520) again has char-grilled meat, this time with crispy ro­maine, red chicory, crunchy crou­tons, Parme­san, red onion, toasted hazel­nuts, chervil and a gar­licky dress­ing.

The loft- style, 200-seat, glass­wrapped restau­rant boasts a mix of rus­tic re­fec­tory ta­bles of re­claimed timber and in­dus­trial-zinc ta­bles, along with tile floor­ing hand-painted with flo­ral de­signs.

Sev­eral daz­zling new sea­sonal dishes have just been added to the menu, all Ital­ian clas­sics with a cre­ative twist.

Jamie’s Ital­ian Bangkok works closely with lo­cal sup­pli­ers to ob­tain in­gre­di­ents that are sus­tain­ably and eth­i­cally pro­duced.

Songkran and Kathaleeya Grachangne­tara, founders of Sirin Farm

Al Mat­tone is mar­i­nated chicken with creamy wild-mush­room sauce

Al Mat­tone with a spicy sauce of tomato, aubergine and black olive

Chicken Cae­sar Salad

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