David Thompson, the chef who changed the face and reputation of Thai food globally, has been recognised by his peers with a lifetime achievement award by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
The former Sydney chef runs Nahm in Bangkok and Long Chim restaurants in Singapore and Perth, and plans to open a Sydney branch of Long Chim later this year.
More than 300 of his colleagues in hospitality voted to honour Thompson with the 2016 Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award, which he’ll receive at the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in Bangkok on February 29.
After initially training in French cuisine, Thompson’s career and palate took a dramatic turn after a visit to Thailand. He opened his first restaurant, Darley Street Thai, in the back of a Newtown pub 25 years ago, before going on to launch Sailor’s Thai, now under different owners, in The Rocks in 1995.
He is considered a global authority on Thai cuisine and wrote the definitive, bright pink cookbook Thai Food, in 2002.
He left Australia to open Nahm in London in 2001, and within a year, it became the first Thai restaurant to receive a Michelin star. Hotelier Christina Ong led Thompson to the place that inspired him and in 2010, he opened a second Nahm at the Metropolitan in Bangkok.
In 2014, Nahm Bangkok was named the best restaurant in Asia in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants . It is currently ranked at 22 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Thompson returns to Australia regularly and is part of Luke Mangan’s Appetite for Excellence awards program for young hospitality workers.
“Usually I am rather embarrassed by awards but to receive something as significant as this, voted for by my peers in the industry, does indeed make me proud and grateful. I still have the same joy in cooking as I had when I first began. It is a timeless pleasure for me, so I feel very lucky,” he said.
Here’s the chef acknowledging the award.
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