Chefs and their food are clearly some of Thailand’s strong suits as Bangkok’s Pichaya ‘Pam’ Soontornyanakij of progressive Thai-Chinese restaurant Potong earns yet another Asia’s Best Female Chef award.
The reason is simple says director of content for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants William Drew:
“Chef Pam has been serving up some truly innovative cuisine from her fine dining establishment in an iconic multi-floor heritage building. Her 20-course tasting menu is a masterclass in paying heed to heritage as well as in cultural storytelling. For her inspirational gastronomy and her commanding presence on Thailand’s culinary scene—which includes everything from television appearances to empowerment programs—Pam is truly deserving of the honor.”
“I’m deeply honored,” she says about receiving the honor. “This award goes beyond personal achievement—it celebrates my beliefs, respect for heritage, and a relentless pursuit to better myself. May this accolade inspire young female chefs to break barriers and ignite grand culinary dreams. I believe that with passion and dedication, anyone can carve their path to success.”
View this post on Instagram
Chef Pam honed her skills at the Culinary Institute of America and at New York restaurant Jean-Georges before returning to Thailand and establishing The Table—where she employs her techniques, plays with New American flavors, and serves a unique beef omakase experience—and a slew of multi-concept outlets called Smoked.
It is, however, at Potong (the name of which translates to “simple”) where she finds herself at her most personal and powerful, returning to her Thai-Chinese heritage across 20-strong statements of culinary techniques and substance that embody her five-element philosophy of salt, acid, spice, texture, and Maillard reaction.
Think Siam redtail catfish and 14-day, five-spiced aged duck or black chicken in a Chinese herb broth and a remake of Thai-Chinese street desserts inside an ancestral building that once served as a traditional Chinese medicine pharmacy.
It’s these kinds of takes that have made chef Pam a prominent personality and Potong a holder of a Michelin star among various other accolades.
Chef Pam will be honored at the live awards ceremony on Mar. 26 in Seoul and will comprise an extensive event program in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs and the Seoul Metropolitan Government. This will also include the reveal of the 2024 ranking of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.
She joins a slew of Asian female chefs including Duangporn ‘Bo’ Songvisava from Thailand (2013); Lanshu Chen from Taiwan (2014); Hong Kong’s Vicky Lau (2015); Margarita Forés of the Philippines (2016); May Chow from Hong Kong (2017); Bongkoch ‘Bee’ Satongun (2018) and Garima Arora (2019), both based in Thailand; Korean chef Cho Hee-sook (2020), Shanghai-based DeAille Tam (2021), Japanese chef Natsuko Shoji (2022) and Singapore-based Filipina chef Johanne Siy (2023).