As a native of Thailand, Chai Jankulprasut has learned the importance of using only the best and freshest quality ingredients in each and every dish.
‘The Land of Smiles” is home to some of the most world-renowned vegetarian and meat based dishes, along with some of the juiciest fruits and highly sought after vegetables. This is a breeding ground for some of the best chefs the world has ever known.
Chai’s interest in cooking began long before circumstances allowed him to move to Sydney. It actually started way back in primary school when he would rush home from school just to watch his mother prepare the evening meal for the family. He would learn how to slice and dice vegetables with precision, and he discovered how to eliminate ingredients that were less than acceptable for any given dish. By the time he moved on to high school, his lifelong passion for cooking was already long established.
The Early Years
Ironically, Chai’s eventual career choice was about as far removed from cooking as one could get – it was in the field of dentistry. There was not a lot of demand for chefs in his homeland, so viewing education as a way to better provide for his financial future, he focused on his occupation within the medical field. This brought him to Australia to complete a master’s degree in orthodontics, with every intention of one day returning to Thailand to practice. Sydney, however, had other opportunities in store for him.
Independent Living Hits Hard
Upon moving to Australia, Chai no longer had someone to do the cooking for him. In his native Thailand, food was plentifully available on the streets and in local canteens. In addition, his mom still enjoyed cooking, and he enjoyed the dishes that she conjured up. This all changed once he began to live on his own in Australia. For the first time in his life, he was forced to cook on his own. This brought back all of those childhood experiences with his mother in the family kitchen that he cherished so much.
Initially, Chai reverted only to traditional Thai and Chinese dishes that he felt comfortable with. With the large number of Asian residents living and working across Sydney, this was not that difficult to do. The ingredients he needed could easily be sourced, and he already knew how to cook up dishes that his taste buds had long since adapted to. In addition, this alleviated a bit of homesickness that would creep in from time to time.
A Shift in Focus
Ever the adventurer, Chai eventually looked around him and discovered that there was a wide world of food choices right at his doorstep. He would see these in various restaurants as he walked by, and would view them on television cooking shows that he had begun to develop a particular liking for.
Over time, he would begin to buy the ingredients needed to experiment with various dishes he would see being made on those shows. He would also begin reading magazines and explore the Internet to further hone his rekindled passion for the kitchen.
Sweets Arrive On the Menu
Many of the menu items that were always lacking in Chai’s native dishes revolved around baked goods as Thai and Western desserts are quite different. Thai use mainly coconut milk rather than dairy and Thai cooking technique involves steam rather than oven baking.
Rather quickly, Chai discovered that he had a particular affinity for dessert items. In fact, his newfound passion in life evolved into a love for pastry, and that dates back only four years.
It all started with him learning how to bake cupcakes and cakes for his friends and family that would visit him. They enjoyed the items that he created, and this boosted his confidence. This evolved into him beginning to source a plethora of books and recipes from the Internet. What began merely as an interest quickly became a hobby that would consume most of his free time.
His newfound love for pastries led him to attend a school offering courses in the art of baking. This would require him to attend weekend classes in Melbourne, but it was well worth the time and effort. He gained the basic knowledge about the art of patisserie. He has since learned how to create and develop unique desserts.
The Hobby Remains Alive and Well
While Chai will be quick to remind anyone who listens that his profession is an orthodontist, he will also state in the same breath that his passion lies in cooking and food plating. This has lead to him sharing his creations with the world via Instagram. His presence on this particular social media platform began roughly a year ago. He has discovered much support from people around the world; much more than he ever envisioned. He has found it to be a most innovative medium to share his love for food with other people around the globe that share the same interests.
Chai was recently honored with being included on Instagram’s Suggested User List. This is not a designation that he takes lightly. It has inspired him to work even harder, and many days will find him in the kitchen creating and presenting new artistic dishes for the world to see and experience.
Many people have asked him where his inspiration comes from, and he has come to respond that it is his love for art and seasonal ingredients. This dates back to his childhood in Thailand, and continues to his newfound professional life in Sydney. He might be an orthodontist by trade, but he is now a pastry chef at heart.
Dark chocolate mousse, raspberry jelly, champagne jelly and meringue.
Chocolate mousse, berry panacotta, strawberry and pistachio biscuit.
Dark chocolate mousse sphere, blackberry and coconut.
White chocolate mousse, creamcheese mousse, mixed berry compote, meringue, champagne jelly and strawberry wafer stick.
Octopus, pickled daikon, heirloom tomato, beetroot vinegarette and wood sorrel.
Mango mousse, mango jelly, coconut jelly, sticky rice and passionfruit.
Beet Salad – Beetroot, quail egg, quinoa, microgreens and aioli.
Octopus, purple cabbage jelly, amaranth, borage flower and purple cabbage mayonnaise.
“Snow White” – White chocolate mousse, coconut mousse, yuzu jelly, lychee jelly, coconut dacquoise and meringue
Atlantic salmon, pickled beetroot, radish, heirloom tomato, pea and aioli.
Matcha mousse, passionfruit curd, matcha jelly, meringue and dacquoise.