WHY HIM? This former culinary director for the upscale Anantara group of hotels became a bona fide celebrity after appearing on two seasons of the TV series Iron Chef Thailand in 2012. Earlier this year he opened R.haan, a Bangkok restaurant that serves traditional Thai cuisine based on centuries-old recipes. The menu changes every four months in keeping with his commitment to using seasonal produce. In addition to his role as co-founder and executive chef of R.haan, Chumpol is a culinary consultant for the Singha Corporation, runs the highly regarded MSC Thai Culinary School and works with Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports to promote food tourism to his country.
Noror Somany Steppe
WHY Her? As founder and executive head chef at the Blue Elephant Group, Nooror is the proprietor of an upscale Thai food empire that encompasses six Blue Elephant restaurants around the world, from Paris to Brussels to Bangkok. Nooror also runs a cooking school and produces her own line of meal kits and packaged sauces under the label Blue Elephant Royal Thai Cuisine. NEXT ON HER PLATE Nooror’s latest venture, Thai Brasserie by Blue Elephant, is set to open in Phuket in January. Nooror plans to expand this more casual dining concept into a franchise.
Chotipong Leenutapho ng
WHY HIM? Choti, as he is known, took a big risk when he walked away from his family’s automotive company to follow his culinary passions, but the move has paid off. In 2014, he founded the Bangkok cocktail bar Vesper, which has ranked among Asia’s 50 Best Bars since 2016. He also established the Portuguese restaurant Il Fumo, which ranked ninth in the Thailand Tatler Best Restaurants 2018 dining guide. Late last year he opened the pasta bar La Dotta and recently launched Via Maris, a restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine. He also works closely with online fundraiser Socialgiver.com, ensuring a percentage of revenue from his bar and restaurants is donated to charity.
Varatt VichitVadakan (Tae)
WHY HIM? Coffee connoisseur Tae has created an empire of brunch spots and artisan coffee shops across Thailand. He is the founder of Think Beyond Company, the dining group responsible for popular cafes such as Roast, Roots, Ocken, Daily Roast and The Commons. With a particular passion for all things local, his mission at specialty coffee chain Roots is to showcase the best home-grown coffee from single origin beans produced across Thailand. Furthermore, part of the profit from every cup of coffee sold goes to the farmers and processors to improve their livelihoods and communities.
WHY Her? Known as chef Tam, Chudaree was the winner of the first season of Top Chef Thailand and has since become a well-known figure on the nation’s culinary landscape. An advocate of the farm-totable food philosophy and passionate about curbing food waste, she organises pop-up events with some of Bangkok’s bestknown restaurants for which she creates innovative menus using seasonal, local produce. These exclusive gatherings feature video and sound presentations that allow guests to see where their food has come from and how it has been prepared. Chef Tam studied nutrition and food science and is interested in showcasing how food can help prevent disease.