In great taste
With a new joint venture called Origin Food, culinary expert Chavanos Rattakul is hoping to give passionate local chefs, their restaurants and their patrons a boost in a busy market
In recent years Thailand’s culinary scene has experienced tremendous growth with an explosion of new and diverse dining experiences, which is why food aficionado Chavanos Rattakul says that there is also a need for a deeper understanding here of the culinary world and a greater appreciation for food—be it simple homely cuisine or more elaborate fine dining creations. This culinary consciousness is what Chavanos hopes to foster, particularly if it helps local establishments and chefs who struggle to get the recognition they deserve.
Chavanos, a director of family-owned St Andrew’s International School, has always been an avid food enthusiast. Today he is embarking on a new journey to indulge his culinary passions with Origin Food, a recently established partnership with real estate company Origin Property. “It’s pretty much a food fund,” he says. “The goal is to invest in small-scale restaurants that need capital and assist them with strategy in order to achieve better and faster growth and expansion. Our aim is to have Origin Food listed in the stock market. That way we will be able to raise significant capital to help achieve that investment goal.”
Running Origin Food comes with its challenges. “The restaurant business is highly competitive and it is essential to understand the market in order to achieve sustainability,” says Chavanos. “You don’t want to invest in something short term or that is merely a passing trend.” While this joint venture will see Origin Property extend its interests into the food industry, for Chavanos it will enable him to ulitise his expertise and years of experience in a field he is ardent about. “Most people love eating. It is easy to enjoy flavours but harder to truly understand the mindset of the chef, the philosophy behind each dish, the sourcing of ingredients and much more.”
As a boy, Chavanos recalls accompanying his grandmother, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, to the local markets. He would help her to pick fresh produce and noticed the detail with which she selected various ingredients—and later the same detail and care she took when preparing dishes in the kitchen. These are cherished moments that ignited his keen interest in cooking and food. Later, as a university student living in Los Angeles, he would spend a great deal of time indulging in the city’s diverse cuisines. And for the past 20 years, he has continued to learn and excel as a food expert.
Chavanos stresses the importance of integrity in running any business. “You have to be honest, especially with food,” he says. “You cannot lose touch with authenticity.” These are values instilled in him from a young age by his mother, whose hardworking ethics have been a source of inspiration to Chavanos.
Not one to follow trends, he has a particular fondness for chefs and restaurateurs who are dedicated to producing great food using exceptional ingredients—be it Italian, French, Japanese, Thai or other types of cuisine. “The real flavours of a place are what count— flavours based on top quality seasonal elements. The restaurants that want to showcase make use of the best local and international produce to create authentic flavours.”
He adds, “The best way for anyone to discover and learn about different cultures is through food.” A globetrotter and epicure, Chavanos takes up to 40 food-related trips a year. In Thailand he hosts Youtube food programmes to share his knowledge and experience. Now at the age of 35, he still has many years ahead to continue enjoying a multi-faceted career and a whole lot of good food. “True appreciation for food is like looking at a piece of work by Monet or Picasso,” he says. “It’s not just the composition, the paint on the canvas, but a whole back-story of emotions. To me, great food is like edible art.”