Q&A with Chef Aod at Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort

Marisa Guerrero

“For ordinary people, food is heaven”
- old Peranakan proverb

The resort area of Laguna where the Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort is located was previously a thriving tin mine that boasted a vibrant Peranakan community. For those of you who need a quick refresher in Thai history, Peranakan are of Chinese ancestry and make up a significant portion of Phuket’s population today. Many are descendants of the tin miners who migrated to the island during the 19th century from provinces such as Hokkien in China. The Peranakan quickly integrated into the local community sharing their culinary secrets along the way.

Flash forward to modern Phuket, where Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort’s Executive Sous Chef Aod is incorporating this history and unique flavors into his new Peranakan BBQ “pop up” restaurant. This new dining experience offers guests beachfront dining, al fresco, with a traditional Peranakan “family style” meal. This truly unique on-property dining option celebrates the Peranakan culture through its delicious sharing menu using techniques and recipes from Thailand, Malaysia and China.

Chef Aod answered some questions about this unique new venture in the latest interview in our Chef Series.

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Chef Aod, are you originally from Phuket? And, how long have you been working at Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort?
Originally I am from the North East of Thailand but have traveled and worked all around Thailand. I have been the Executive Sous Chef at the Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort for over a year now.

When did you know you wanted to be a chef? Where did you get your culinary training/skills?
My Father was a Chef and his Father before him. I grew up in restaurants and always helped my Mother prepare our evening meal from a young age. I used to stand on a box when using the Wok to cook! When I was cooking it meant that I was with the people I cared for the most in my life.

How has your talent evolved over the years, and what (or who) have been your greatest inspirations?
Once I started to work in International Hotels I was exposed to different cooking styles and techniques. My strength had always been Thai food but now I began to learn Western cuisine. My mentor here at Outrigger is Chef Roberto Conran who cooked in Michelin star restaurants around France and Switzerland. And our Pastry Chef Anders has taught me to make the BEST breakfast croissants in Asia!

What’s your favorite dish or type of cuisine to eat?
For me the simplest dishes are always the best – I’m a country boy at heart and still love my mother's Kra Poaw Moo (stir fried pork, thai basil, chili garlic with steamed rice and a fried egg). Delicious!

What are your favorite ingredients to work with when cooking?
The freshest! If you work with fresh produce that is local where possible you will create the best tasting food. We use a lot of seafood here on the island of Phuket, at Outrigger we only accept the fish caught the night before.

Can you tell us a little bit about the restaurants on property and what makes them unique?
Locavore is our signature restaurant. At Locavore we go to great lengths sourcing produce grown within 100KM radius of the restaurant. It’s a challenge at times but worth the effort. Edgewater serves comfort classics throughout the day with a wonderful beach view and we also have Metzos which is our Mediterranean restaurant serving hero dishes from around the Mediterranean, north, south, east and west. And last but not least our newest addition, The Peranakan BBQ of which I am very proud.

Tell us more about the new Pop Up restaurant specifically. Where did this idea come about, and how did you come up with the recipes? Were you previously trained in this style of cooking? How is it similar or different to Thai cuisine?
We came up with the idea after learning that the Hotel sits on the site of an old tin mine which brought the Peranakan people to Phuket. The mix of cooking techniques and flavours in Peranakan cooking produces vibrant flavours which makes it very similar to Thai cuisine. The difference comes with the subtle influence of Chinese and Malay cooking. What I love most about our Peranakan menu is that the recipes all come from the local community and have been passed down through the generations from the Soul to the Bowl!

Do you have a signature dish or “must try” item for those visiting Outrigger Phuket Beach Resort?
When you try Peranakan BBQ make sure you start with a Peranakan Mojito which uses local rum, sweet Thai basil leaves (instead of mint), Thai limes, sugar and ginger ale. Then move onto our signature mixed grill platter to share from the BBQ - Squid, Red Snapper, Lobster, Rock Lobster, Jumbo Prawns, served with Chili Padi Ikan Sos (Chili, onion with tamarind sauce). Or Bawang Ketumar Masak Sos (Steamed garlic and Coriander Sauce), plus a selection small salads and jasmine rice – finish with homemade coconut ice cream served in a sticky bun.

In your opinion, what makes Phuket, and this resort specifically, such a unique getaway?
Easy -the food of course! Thailand has the best food in the world! Plus we have the advantage of being an absolute beachfront resort enabling guests to walk unhindered onto the beach directly from their rooms. Plus, it’s always a special treat to meet Candy, our baby elephant, every morning and afternoon – truly magical for the kids (and the big kids too!)

Any other “insider information” you could share with our readers?
Our cooking school is the best on the island (that’s because I usually teach it!). If you learn how to make one of my curries it’s a vacation memory you can enjoy time and time again!

And finally, what do you do for fun when you’re not cooking?
I love to eat! It is such an important and celebrated part of Thai daily life – when I am eating it means I am with my friends and family…and if my wife is not around I love to watch soccer – Manchester United!

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