A world-renowned chef, restaurateur and author, there is no other culinary professional who has accomplished placing Thai cuisine on the global stage as David Thompson. Throughout an impressive career spanning over three decades, the Australian chef has opened numerous restaurants, published three cookbooks on Thai food and received the highest accolades of the gastronomic scene, including the Lifetime Achievement Award by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and the first Michelin star ever to be awarded to a Thai restaurant.
We are so privileged to have partnered with David Thompson since the launch of Aqua Mekong in 2014 to offer our guests a world-class culinary journey across the rich and intricate flavors of Vietnam and Cambodia. As consulting chef, Thompson integrates the best quality and freshest ingredients from the Mekong into a fine dining menu with a strong sense of place, honoring the region’s heritage and traditional recipes such as his signature “Deep-Fried King Prawns with Turmeric, Garlic and Peppercorns”, “Beef satay with Khmer Spices and Lemongrass”, “Vietnamese Lotus leaf Steamed Rice with Lotus Seeds” and “Cambodian Rice Noodles with Khmer Chicken Curry”.
Having discovered Thai food by “happy serendipity” during a holiday trip to Bangkok in 1986, Thompson fell in love with Thai culture, its language and the diversity of its cuisine. The young chef found his way to Thailand’s antique ‘funeral books’, memories to the deceased which contain instructions to traditional dishes. These publications would eventually become his primary source of inspiration, shaping his style of cooking and culinary proposal offered in his restaurants. Thompson retrieved these recipes acting as a ‘culinary anthropologist’.
He returned to his hometown Sydney where he opened his first restaurant Darley Street Thai in 1991, followed by Sailors Thai in 1995. His newly built reputation that brought delicious Southeast Asian cuisine to new audiences abroad skyrocketed with the launch of Nahm restaurant at the COMO Hotel in London. Just six months after its opening in 2001, it received a Michelin star, the first one of its kind for a Thai restaurant, becoming a mecca for Thai food.
Nine years later, Thompson did what many critics considered audacious, bringing Nahm to Bangkok where he developed a loyal clientele even among Thais, thanks in part to using only the finest quality local ingredients, including many straight from his own farm in Ratchaburi Province outside the Thai capital. In 2014, Nahm reached the number one position in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and remained on the list for 8 years.
In 2015, David Thompson opened his first Long Chim restaurant in Singapore, which has since then has expanded internationally, showcasing the spices and diversity of Thai street food: curries, stir-fries, noodles, and everything delicious in between. His latest venture, authentic Thai restaurant Aaharn in Honk Kong, opened at the end of 2018 and soon after received a Michelin star in the 2020 Hong Kong & Macau Michelin Guide.
Throughout his career, the famous chef has been praised by international experts and received prestigious awards including Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants’ 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award as well as the Nordic’s 2018 Global Gastronomy Award, which recognized his amazing work in the research and preservation of Thai culinary heritage. There is no sign of stopping for David Thompson as his next ambitious project is to establish a research center to record and preserve ancient Thai recipes and techniques – a personal project he has been longing for many years as his way of giving back to the country of Thailand and its people.
For the grand finale of our three-part Chef Masterclass series, we’re bringing David Thompson’s expertise and the wonderful flavors of the Mekong’s cuisine to your homes with a delectable three-course meal. The recipes covered in this episode will include a simple yet incredibly tasty grilled chicken with Cambodian black pepper and lime juice sauce accompanied by a fresh cucumber salad and capped off with a typical Thai dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Click below to download the ingredients list and let the feast begin!