Bastian Ballweg is Executive Chef at Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Nai Yang Beach, in Thailand.

 

We chat to this German national about his culinary journey and cooking with “passion and heart”.

 

So Chef Bastian, you have a family background in food, with your grandparents owning a pub and restaurant – did you always know you wanted to be a chef? 

Actually I wanted to work in veterinary medicine or animal care. But ever since I was young, cooking has been my passion, and I’ve always been interested in the hospitality business, so it was not that difficult to change my goals.

 

You worked for years in kitchens in Europe – can you highlight some of the key restaurants you worked in? 

One key restaurant I worked in was Wernings Weinstube in my hometown of Bielefeld. This completed my education as a chef. After this I went to Switzerland to work at Mövenpick Hotel Zürich Airport.

When I moved to Phuket, the first restaurant I worked at was Churrasco, a South American steakhouse. I then moved to Naka Island, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Phuket as Sous Chef, before arriving at Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Nai Yang Beach.

 

You’ve been living and working in Phuket for several years now – is cooking in Thailand different from in Europe or America in any way? 

Honestly, it’s not much different. The most important thing is to do everything you do with passion and heart.

 

How have you seen the culinary world change in Phuket over the years? 

Of course, culinary trends are changing all over the world, not only in Phuket. There are now more and more small shops emerging, serving good food at low prices, and these locations are very well visited.

In my opinion, the world has not changed much in terms of food quality. People now want to eat faster and cheaper, but the quality often remains on track.

 

 

Are you able to access all the ingredients you need? Are any difficult to come by, and if so, why? What are the suppliers there like?

Yes, through our global network of suppliers we are close to getting everything we need. We can also get more products locally because some Thai farms have succeeded in cultivating non-native products – for example, I can now get figs from Phang Nga province.

 

Are there any unusual ingredients you cook with? How do you cook with them?

No, I love to cook with ingredients that are simple yet interesting. But, of course, when I see something out of the ordinary I do try to include it in my menu. For example, some time ago I discovered finger limes and used them in a fish dish. Unusual ingredients can have characteristics that are otherwise hard to find.

 

How would you describe your cooking technique and approach to food?

My cooking technique is a mix of traditional and modern, taking on board my lifetime of experience from training in my youth all the way through to the present day.

 

Could you please highlight two stand-out dishes on any of the menus at the hotel, perhaps that are Thai, or blend Thai and western cuisine. 

In terms of Thai cuisine, our tom kha seafood soup is a classic coconut soup with Thai influences, while our popular tuna tartare is based on flavours of tom yum, the famous Thai dish.

 

Thank you, Chef Bastian, for your time and all the best from us here at Cook Concern.  

 

If you want to see more from Bastian, check out his recipe.

 

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