Dining Out 2 minutes 30 September 2019

Video: At The Source With Le Du

Chef Ton of one-MICHELIN-starred restaurant Le Du takes us to the scenic countryside of Bangkok and shares his insights on sourcing for Thailand’s beautiful local produce.

About an hour outside the bustling city of Bangkok, the busy streets and clustered buildings give way to sprawling countryside dotted with paddy fields and farms. It’s at one of these farms in Nakhon Pathom that Thitid Tassanakajohn, chef-owner of one-MICHELIN-starred restaurant Le Du in Bangkok, sources a key ingredient for his menus — chicken.
Chef Ton, as he is popularly known in Thailand, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York and cut his teeth at several MICHELIN-starred restaurants, including Eleven Madison Park, The Modern and Jean Georges, before returning to Bangkok and opening fine-dining restaurant Le Du in 2013.

Though French-sounding, the restaurant was named after the Thai word for “seasons”, which reflects the chef’s focus on traditional flavours and local, seasonal ingredients, woven together with contemporary flair. “I want to create modern Thai food that still maintains the roots of Thai cuisine,” he says. “At Le Du, we want to present the seasonal produce of Thailand to showcase the terroir of Thailand.”
To that end, the chef sources 100% of his ingredients from Thailand, a bold move for a fine-dining restaurant where guests expect to be wowed by luxury imported ingredients like truffles or foie gras. Instead, he meticulously scours the country for its best produce, forming relationships with local farmers and producers. “We work very closely with our farmers. We know who catches the fish for us, who rears the chicken for us, we know them by name.”

He met farmer Amnart Reansoi several years back and was impressed by how he had set up a chicken farm off the back of his organic rice farm. At Tan-khun Organic Farm, Reansoi raises the poultry on organic chicken feed and a free-range system, practices rare in Thailand. “We’ve been working very closely these past four to five years and he always asks me for feedback about how many months old the chicken should be or what feed affects the taste of the chicken,” says the chef.
“For me, it’s very important that I’m not only cooking for myself, but also my farmers and suppliers as well; that we grow together, step by step,” he says. “Now, we can present the Thai food we want to present to the world while they can present their produce and take care of their families and have a better life. That, for me, is very priceless.”

These are values that the chef shares with Nespresso in the way that it does its sourcing. “Nespresso is working with its farmers the same way I work with my farmers. We share something in common which is very important — sustainability and the welfare of our farmers,” he explains.
“At Nespresso, it will have its staff go to the farmers and teach them how to grow coffee efficiently and in an environmentally friendly way,” he says, referring to the importance Nespresso places on sourcing from specially selected farms in 12 countries and building sustainable practices and relationships with them.

“The consistency of Nespresso is second to none for me because every single time you know it will be exactly the same and that’s very important for us,” he says. “As a restaurant, we try to achieve the same consistency over and over again for every guest, for every table, every night. We want to make sure that every customer gets the best quality coffee in every cup, the same as the food that we try to serve. At the end of the meal, I want all my guest to love Thailand a little bit more. That is my goal.”

Dining Out

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