Bangkok’s Pichaya ‘Pam’ Soontornyanakij has been named Asia’s Best Female Chef 2024 in an unprecedented celebration of culinary genius and female prowess in the gastronomic arena. This distinguished accolade results from the collective voice of 318 members of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, shining a spotlight on women’s relentless efforts and creativity in redefining the boundaries of culinary excellence.
The announcement precedes the much-anticipated awards ceremony slated for March 26, 2024, in Seoul, marking a historic collaboration between Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA), and the Seoul Metropolitan Government. This year’s event not only celebrates the pinnacle of Asian culinary talent but also underscores Seoul’s burgeoning status as a global gastronomic hub.
William Drew, the esteemed Director of Content for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, lauded Chef Pam’s groundbreaking approach to cuisine, stating, “Her tasting menu is a masterclass in cultural homage and innovative gastronomy. Chef Pam’s indelible mark on Thailand’s culinary landscape makes her a beacon of inspiration and a deserving recipient of this prestigious honor.”
Potong, the brainchild of Chef Pam, is a testament to her profound respect for her Thai-Chinese heritage and the rich history of her family’s traditional Chinese medicine enterprise. Potong is a celebration of simplicity and sophistication in the historic building that once housed the family’s pharmacy. The restaurant’s 20-course tasting menu, guided by Chef Pam’s 5-Element philosophy—Salt, Acid, Spice, Texture, and Maillard Reaction—melds tradition with avant-garde techniques, earning it critical acclaim and a coveted spot among Bangkok’s culinary elite.
Beyond her culinary achievements, Chef Pam is a staunch advocate for empowering women in the culinary field. Through her active involvement with Gastronauts Asia and Women in Gastronomy and the recent launch of the WFW (Women for Women) scholarship program in partnership with the American Women’s Club of Thailand, Chef Pam is paving the way for female students in rural Thailand to realize their culinary aspirations.
Chef Pam reflected on her award: “This accolade is a testament to my journey, my heritage, and my commitment to culinary excellence. It is a beacon of hope for young female chefs, encouraging them to dream big and break through the culinary industry’s glass ceiling. With passion and perseverance, the path to success is within reach.”
As the culinary world anticipates the grand ceremony in Seoul, Chef Pam’s story serves as a powerful narrative of passion, dedication, and the transformative power of cuisine. Her journey from the halls of Potong to the pinnacle of Asia’s culinary scene is a source of inspiration for aspiring chefs worldwide, proving that the ingredients for success are talent, hard work, and an unwavering commitment to one’s roots.
Written by: Supaporn Pholrach