EPICURIOUS: MEET THE CHEFS WHO PLATE THE MAGIC
They can be found getting their hands dirty in organic farms, foraging in forests, haggling with fishermen and farmers, or hunched over computers researching the most sustainable and ethical suppliers of all manner of meats.
“DINING AT ALEENTA IS ABOUT FUN, BEING RELAXED AND VERY SOCIAL” - CHEF JEAN-LOUIS LEON
They can be found getting their hands dirty in organic farms, foraging in forests, haggling with fishermen and farmers, or hunched over computers researching the most sustainable and ethical suppliers of all manner of meats. They are equally comfortable in the heat of the kitchen, plating creative and classic dishes for discerning devotees, or initiating another class of hotel guests into the intoxicating world of Thai cooking.
They learned their art as apprentices to modern masters and honed their skills in the world’s great restaurant kitchens. They leave no stone unturned in the quest to obtain ingredients that are as seasonal local and organic as possible. trade is the creation of culinary epiphanies for a growing coterie of connoisseurs who travel for the sake of food. And their stock in trade is the creation of culinary epiphanies for a growing coterie of connoisseurs who travel for the sake of food. They are AHMS The Collection’s Epicurean Elite, the senior chefs and young guns who make possible the AHMS promise of something deliciously different’ in dining possible. The unique flavours and elegant presentations in dream-like settings begin and end with chefs like Jean-Louis Leon and Alexander Bitterling, Aleenta Phuket-Phang Nga’s Director of Kitchens and Chef de Cuisine respectively, James Noble, Resident Manager and culinary creative force at Aleenta Hua Hin-Pranburi, and the new breed of home-grown chefs like AKARYN Samui Resort & Spa Sous Chef Coco Apichet.
It is the first two chefs who have been in the culinary spotlight of late, with Aleenta Phuket’s launch of The EDGE Beachfront Restaurant. Inspired by its surroundings, this spacious restaurant is an exquisite dining destination located just steps away from the white sands of pristine Natai Beach. It is here Bitterling and his kitchen team combined their epicurean passion and philosophies to provide diners and guests with an eclectic yet sumptuous collection of dishes best described as “Forward Thinking Contemporary Cuisine”. It comprises timeless Thai staples, Asian-inspired noodle dishes, succulent meats and luscious burgers and sandwiches on the lunch menu, ceding to Chef Alex’s creative masterpieces for dinner as luscious Intro, Aquatic, Flora & Fauna and Finale choices.
“Dining at Aleenta is about fun, being relaxed and very social,” says Chef Jean-Louis whose approach to food swept AHMS founder and managing director Anchalika Kijkanakorn off her feet while sampling his creations in the Seychelles. She invited him to head Aleenta Phuket’s culinary team and the rest is Thailand fine dining history.
"Thailand is a magical destination where a Chef like me can feel complete. You have beautiful ingredients, table wares designed to my liking, and a lot of people who share my passion for a beautiful and delicious dish. When I get that urge to express myself, the very blue sky is the limit in Thailand!" He also feels lucky to have a strong team behind him, most of whom have stayed with him from the very beginning, growing and learning with him in Aleenta. Chef Jean-Louis unselfishly lavishes praise on the rare skills of Bitterling, his underling, saying his work is of a standard that would hold its own in any of the world's great centres of fine dining. German national Bitterling previously worked as chef at the Buffalo Club Restaurant and the Alchemy Restaurant in Brisbane Australia, and was Sous Chef at Langham Place Samui before joining Aleenta.
Bitterling ascribes his inspiration to a love of the environment, a reverence for the deeds of the great chefs who came before, and a fierce curiosity about ingredients, flavours and their possible minglings and marriages. Above all, he considers himself a story teller, leading each diner course by course along a narrative unique to that place in time.
At sister resort Aleenta Hua Hin, Pranburi, James Noble, the Resident Manager who also heads up the kitchen, brings another creative spark to the party. A Michelin-starred chef, a futurist and a man of prudence, Noble was the prime mover in establishing an eight hectare organic farm to deliver low-carbon and now carbon-free cooking. He forges bonds with guests that endure, and guards the privacy of his more high profile and A-List celebrity guests with passion. A classically trained chef with a contemporary outlook who still loves to perform magic in the kitchen has a culinary oeuvre that ranges from Mediterranean, French, Asian and International dishes have tantalised dinner parties and events from 30 to 3,000 guests.
The final weapon in AHMS culinary arsenal can be found in the kitchens of AKARYN Samui, where a young Thai Sous Chef, Coco Apichet, is determined to Thai culinary talent. He currently spends most of his time in the engine room of AKARYN's relatively new but well-respected and well-reviewed steakhouse, OCHOS. The jewel in the crown of AKARYN's Gourmet Village concept, Coco Apichet is intent on ensuring the steakhouse's mantra of "60 percent ingredients, 30 percent technique and 10 percent talent" holds true.
"It's been a steep learning curve and steaks at this level is not a simple thing but I am proud to be a Thai and a native of Samui getting this opportunity to learn, grow as a chef and deliver world class steaks and sides to appreciative diners. The best part of this job is the look on a guests' face when you know you have really wowed them."
As individual chefs, each of the four AHMS The Collection kitchen heavyweights have fine reputations and successful restaurants behind them. Together, they form a critical mass of culinary excellence which is refining the future direction of fine dining on this vibrant isle.
THE EDGE RESTAURANT
Aleenta Phuket Resort and Spa
33 Mu 5, Khokkloy, Thakuathung,
Phangnga, 82140, Thailand
Lunch: from 12:00pm to 4pm
Dinner: from 6.30pm to 10pm