Chef Jimmy Ophorst of Trisara’s PRU restaurant has big plans to change the situation, and after tasting his new farm-to-table inspired menu, I believe the future looks bright.
“I grew up in Holland in a farmer’s village, so I know a little bit about farming, and you know if you’ve grown it yourself, and know where it’s coming from, then you know how good it tastes,” he said.
PRU announced its new locally-sourced menu just two months ago, but Chef Jimmy says it has been more than a year in the making, and there is still much work to do.
“We opened two months ago but the process really began last February. Because we only use 100% local ingredients, the process of sourcing everything has taken about a year,” he says.
“This is the first time we’ve done something like this here, I worked together with our F&B Director Quentin Fougreroux and we wanted to have something new, something that we don’t really have in Thailand,” he adds.
If you have any doubt about Chef Jimmy’s passion for the concept, or of Trisara’s commitment, consider “Pru Jampa” – the 600-rai farm in north-eastern Phuket dedicated to providing fresh organic produce exclusively for PRU’s kitchen.
“It’s a lot of land, but we are not using it all at the moment. Right now we are using about 10-rai but we are planning to make it bigger and bigger,” he says.
“So far we have eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, Thai herbs, ginger – the regular stuff.
Then we also have our own free-range chickens to use their eggs in our restaurant,” he explains, warming to his subject.
“In the future we are planning to have lambs, cows, everything! So we can have milk for making our own cheese and much more... the restaurant is really in its beginning, as is the farm,” Chef Jimmy says enthusiastically.
Inevitably, the newly established farm can’t supply everything needed for a top-level chef to really have some fun in the kitchen, so working with local suppliers of meat, seafood and vegetables is also central to PRU’s philosophy.
For now, produce unavailable from “Pru Jampa” farm is sourced from local markets and suppliers, which draw in produce from Phuket and its surrounding regions.
For example, the yogurt and butter is made with fresh milk from cows in Krabi, with no added sugars or preservatives.
Locally grown pineapples and nuts are sourced from both the north and south of the island. All the seafood, including deep-sea crabs, Phuket lobsters, tiger prawns and black crabs are wild-caught in the waters surrounding the island.
“We are working with a fisherman from the Phuket harbour, so he goes out about three or four nights a week to catch the fish for us.
All the seafood we use is wild, we don’t use any farmed seafood, because we want to keep it all natural,” he says.
“In the future, we plan to take around 85% of our vegetables from the farm and for the other 15% we still want to work with local farmers, because that’s very important to us too.”
“Well that all sounds great,” I hear you say, “but what about the food?”
As you might expect, with this much effort and care taken before the ingredients even reach the kitchen, the pressure is on for Chef Jimmy to deliver, and he does, in spades.
There is a choice of several set-menus with varying numbers of dishes to suit your appetite, and naturally, each dish is expertly paired with fine wines from across the globe – so far PRU’s only omission from its locally-sourced philosophy – and in this writer’s humble opinion, a quite forgivable one.
In many ways the key to the food’s success is its simplicity – dishes like “Carrots cooked in the soil they came from, fermented carrot juice and cured egg yolk from the farm” make the humble carrot the champion of the dish, and succeeds in enhancing the vegetable’s earthy, subtle flavour.
Another highlight was the “Textures of organic celery, all-spice ice cream and Andaman nut crumble”, again, the unassuming celery manages to surprise and delight you when combined with the other, stronger ingredients.
As you might have gathered, many of the dishes don’t have meat, but somehow, this doesn’t even really occur to you, as you are dazzled by the array of flavours and textures Chef Jimmy conjures on the plate.
That being said, the “Different cuts of Pak Chong baby lamb, deep fried sun choke, raw celery, lamb jus, onion three ways and local goat cheese” was equally delicious.
I could go on about the other menu items, but why spoil the fun? Its far better to book a table and take the ride for yourself.
All I can add is that I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future at this remarkable restaurant.
For more information visit: prurestaurant.com