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Bringing Elevated Thai Cuisine to the Plate: Chef Chat with Bee Satongun

By Leigh O’Connor.

Named Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2018, Bee Satongun went on to scoop up a Michelin star the same year in the first Thai edition of the guidebook.

You can now find Bee in charge of the kitchen at Paste Australia on Main Street in Mittagong, where a palate-tantalising adventure awaits diners as they peruse a menu of fresh Australian ingredients, reimagining ancient Thai recipes and unearthing hidden and surprising culinary combinations.

"I had my first ‘taste’ of cooking with my mother and I have only cooked professionally in my own kitchens,” the mastermind behind Paste Bangkok tells AGFG. "I met my husband, Jason Bailey, when I started working in the industry and he was keen to train me as a Chef. I thought, why not? So here I am today.”

Bringing Elevated Thai Cuisine to the Plate: Chef Chat with Bee Satongun
Even at a young age, Bee’s family was selling food in Bangkok, specialising in curries and curried noodles called 'kanom jeen', but it wasn’t until she met Jason, it became a career option and she could see cooking becoming a meaningful lifelong calling.

"As a Chef, I think it is important not to be influenced only by cookbooks or one train of thought. I’ve tried to integrate myself into the social environment in Bangkok where the food is from and approach it with an open mind.”

Bee defines her style as producing refined Royal-inspired Thai food that is gratifying and offers pleasure:

"I do this in two ways: through research and refinement of flavours which have been all but lost and following the true spirit of historical Thai cooks, which was to always adapt to the time and taste of the customer in the most complex and exceptional way possible. 

"Flavour is paramount to me,” she explains. "I seek to showcase the many subtle flavours contained in an ingredient and allow the ingredient’s own personality and talent to be clearly expressed.”

Food has been a consistent part of her life since a young child – more of an obsession than a passion – and Bee wants to show internationally there is more to Thai food than pad Thai and fish cakes.

"Many Chefs rely on opening bottles and tins to produce their flavours. I am obsessed with using raw ingredients that leave memorable, cultural and experiential impressions.”

Bringing Elevated Thai Cuisine to the Plate: Chef Chat with Bee Satongun
Bee shares her recipe for seared scallops and fresh mangosteen salad with AGFG home cooks - the combination of chilli jam, which is one of the most complex Thai relishes, with elegant and juicy mangosteen forms a seamless and delicious combination of taste and texture with plump sea scallops.

"At Paste, our food comes from understanding the old ways of traditional Thai cuisine but not being completely bound by these ideas. Our approach is to modernise about 20% and to keep 80% of the original dish’s culture and heritage.

"Our philosophy is also to showcase local produce, particularly rare ingredients and herbs, sourced from throughout the country for their intriguing flavours.”

So, what does this award-winning Chef go to at home when she doesn’t feel like cooking?

"My husband’s cooking!”

Featured Locations

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Paste Australia

Embark on a palate-tantalising adventure at Paste Australia on Main Street in Mittagong. The Southern Highlands of NSW have been chosen as the Australian stage for Thailand’s famous Michelin-starre...

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