Chef of the Week: Aoy Marungrueng, Bangkok, Thailand
Meet Chef Aoy Marungrueng, Head Chef and owner of Aoywaan Riverside Thai Cuisine and fantastic Traveling Spoon host in Bangkok, Thailand.
Aoy loves yoga and food and is incredibly skilled at cooking and teaching authentic Thai food, although she thinks authentic has become a rather overused buzzword. We couldn’t agree more!
If you travel to Bangkok, make sure to book one of her private cooking classes as you’re bound to have an unforgettable experience.
What inspired you to become a cook?
I have always loved food and I like seeing the happy faces of people after eating my food. So, I guess to bring joy to the people I care about with the food I cook, and the love of eating were what inspired me to become a cook.
Where did you learn to cook?
As a child growing up in the countryside in Nakhon Pathom, every morning I would wake up to the sound of birds chirping outside my windows and to the rhythm of my mother’s pestle pounding against the mortar in my open kitchen.
At 5 years old I was already a good assistant cook to my mother. She taught me how to pick, handle, and clean vegetables and fruit that grew in my garden. And in the kitchen, she taught me how to mix all the herbs and spices together before marinating fish and meat.
Thai food has become incredibly popular world-wide. Why do you think people have fallen in love with Thai cuisine?
Thailand is a great country to visit due to its warm hospitality from the Thai, its rich culture and delicious food. Shops and restaurants are in abundance and can be found on every street corner.
Tourists who have been to Thailand are often fond of their amazing meals and thus, when they return home, they help spread the word and often want to remake Thai food. When there is a demand then there will be a supply.
How is authentic Thai food different than the Thai food served internationally?
The word authentic cuisine is somewhat subjective and personally I think authentic is overused and an empty word to describe any cuisine.
I think authentic is overused and an empty word to describe any cuisine.
However, if I must sum up the difference between “authentic” Thai food vs international, then I must say that authentic Thai food has more flavor and freshness of ingredients used in each dish.
Thai food served in Thailand tends to have a lot of fresh herbs and many dishes have more pungent flavors compare to the Thai food served internationally.
Do you have a signature dish or a favorite dish that you enjoy cooking?
My signature dish is duck simmered in red curry, litchi and grape, served in steamed whole pumpkin.
What are the top Thai dishes everyone needs to try out when visiting Thailand?
- Green curry
- Banana blossom salad
- Yum thua poo (winged bean salad)
- Gai kra chai (stirred fried chicken marinate with herbs and fingerroot ginger).
What is the quintessential Thai food ingredient?
Tell us about your Traveling Spoon experience. What do you enjoy most about it?
What I enjoy the most as the host is the open minded, the curiosity and the Traveling Spoon’s clients’ willingness to learn about new cultures and experience.
In return I go out of my way to introduce as much information about Thailand and Thai cuisine through what I have learned and eaten all my life. I treat all my clients like friends and family visiting town.
Tell us a bit about your restaurant. What type of food do you serve and what’s the most popular dish among your guests?
My restaurant is located on the outskirts of Bangkok, about 45 minutes’ drive from the city. It’s next to the Thajin river. Customers have a choice of either sitting in the garden under luscious fruit trees, among orchids and flowers or in the air conditioned room inside.
The restaurant serves Thai food. Our menu is divided into 3 categories:
1) Thai dishes from Thailand’s ancient recipes passed down from my grandparents to my mother, where fresh herbs and forgotten spices are put to good use.
2) Royal Thai cuisine, which I learned from my father who was a talented cook and had an eye for beautiful presentation when plating food.
3) Thai dishes with a twist due to my extensive traveling and tasting food in many parts of the world.
The most popular dishes are green curry using fresh herbs and Thai spices.