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

Thailand Tatler - - TATLER FOCUS ORIGIN FOOD -

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.”

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