Tongsai Bay on Koh Samui is Thailand’s sustainability pioneer. In 1985, Khun Akorn Hoontrakul bought the 25-hectare property and built the hotel of his dreams.
No trees were felled during construction and the protection of nature was placed above all else during work on site. Today the five-star resort is run by son Gob and daughter-in-law Goya. For both of them, sustainability remains a top priority.
Tongsai Bay has a large organic garden that supplies the kitchen with the majority of the food and herbs used in their delicious meals.
A young and talented chef
Chef Thanawut Chaiwanwut – or simply Chef Eak, as he is usually called, comes from Phuket and developed his culinary skills at the Professional Training School in Songkhla. He began his culinary career 12 years ago as a simple kitchen hand and has worked his way up thanks to his talent, ambition, and passion for cooking and has worked in a number of 5-star resorts in Phuket and Krabi. His start in 2015 as the Executive Chef of Tongsai Bay, fell in the middle of the busy high season, and he brought lots of ideas with him in his luggage! He began with the menu of the Po-Lad Beach Bistro & Bar, which is located directly on the beach. The menu was enhanced with an Asian influence and includes a large selection of seafood along with classics such as juicy steak and hamburgers.
Chef Eak at the Black Swan in Oldstead
In 2017 there was a wonderful opportunity for Chef Eak to further his culinary knowledge in a well-known Michelin star restaurant in the UK.
Mr. and Mrs. Deans, guests who married in Tongsai Bay in 2000 and have returned twelve times ever since live in the region around the Black Swan. Mrs. Deans worked there on a part-time basis and was also the nanny of the current chef, Tommy Banks, and his brother. While they were having dinner one evening at the Black Swan, the idea was conceived that the Executive Chef of Tongsai Bay could continue his training and develop his culinary skills at the Black Swan. The chef of the Black Swan, Tommy Banks, very much liked the proposal.
“What I experienced at the Black Swan was a high level of professionalism. They are very focused. Everyone has their own individual orders, and when the service starts, everyone has their own place. The pressure is very high, and it’s a long, hard, and stressful job, but at the end of each day you feel an amazing sense of achievement and your colleagues become good friends.”
Thanawut Chaiwanwut – Chef Eak
Chef Tommy Banks’ menu consists largely of ingredients grown by the Banks family themselves. Chef Banks loves the freshness of local produce, and his menu features innovative and delicious combinations. The standards for freshness and quality are non-negotiable for him. This approach to ingredients has helped shape Chef Eak and he uses the knowledge he has gained to create new exciting recipes. The two-week internship in the Black Swan showed him a new world of eating. He developed his palate and learned how to balance the taste of a dish. He learned to cook more creatively and how important time management and discipline are. The time spent in the Black Swan has most certainly taken him to the next level.