The Yum List chats with Belinda Tuckwell, executive chef at The Pavilions Phuket and discovers some stories behind the scenes.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I am the Executive Chef at The Pavilions Phuket. I have been in the industry more than 25 years. I joined The Pavilions team 15 months ago. I started my apprenticeship at the iconic Sydney Opera House and have been passionate about food and cooking ever since.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is working in a beautiful hotel with fantastic staff. I have the opportunity to use interesting local ingredients and an insight to real Thai food and culture.
What’s your favourite meal/ drink at The Pavilions?
Sunset cocktails and tapas at our 360° Bar and Grill which boasts the most beautiful sunset in Phuket. My favourite tapa is seared scallops, Asian apple and pistachio puré with Avruga caviar washed down with a kaffir lime and coconut Martini.
Tell us a story about one of the dishes you have prepared.
We recently did a Champagne dinner and had the challenging job of matching Thai food with Champagne. We served poached organic chicken with massaman spices, peanut crunch, potato, shallots and crispy chicken skin. The dish presented was a modern version of a chicken massaman that the whole brigade developed.
The perfect day off would be…
… an early morning swim at the beach followed by a long lunch with great food and friends.
A life in the day of a chef is…
…hectic and sometimes crazy. A chef’s life is never boring.
What do you do for fun?
Fun is foraging at the local markets, cooking, swimming and playing tennis.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about the dining options at The Pavilions?
At The Pavilions our most popular experience is a romantic candlelit barbeque in your villa – in the buff or with a private chef. The most popular menu is the “Thai Seafood BBQ.” Highlights include Andaman Sea lobsters, tiger prawns, squid, crab, spotted grouper with Thai herbs and fresh salads from our garden.
How do you select your ingredients and why?
Good quality ingredients are the most important aspect of any dish. We look for top quality fresh ingredients delivered daily. I try to be conscious about where our ingredients come from and how they were produced.
What’s your view on the Phuket restaurant scene?
Phuket has endless options for dining from restaurants, lively markets, street stalls to tiny Thai family run business. The Western food scene has evolved dramatically in Phuket in the last two years. There is a lighter, fresher and innovative approach to the food and a move away from the heavier European food previously served.
What can guests look forward to in the upcoming months?
In the coming months, we will be focusing on mezze in the Plantation restaurant. Experience the epitome of oriental dining with a gourmet selection including traditional babaganoush, hummus, fatoush salad, lamb kofta and chicken borek accompanied by homemade pita bread.