With over 16 years’ experience across Asia working for some of the best hotels and chefs in the business, Chef Thong Aek has chosen Centara and Krabi as his new workplace and home in a move that is sure to delight guests and locals alike.
After completing his tourism studies at Siam Business College, Chef Thong Aek dived head first into the industry with the opening of the Bangkok Peninsula Hotel.
Other people would have aimed for a chance in one of the restaurants, but he was quite content to work in “Chili & Pepper”, the staff canteen of this famous five-star hotel.
This is where he learned to cook Thai food for Thai people. At that point, instead of plating fine-dining creations, he managed a wok and cooked portions for 10 people at a time.
This fundamental knowledge has accompanied him his whole life and serves as the foundation of his culinary career.
Chef Thong Aek went abroad for the first time to join the Mandarin Oriental Macau for a total of five years. His starting position was as Commis Chef in Naam – the hotel’s Thai fine-dining restaurant.
Here he learned the finesse of fine dining and elegant plate presentation. He was promoted to Demi Chef after two years. Soon, he was given a chance to work as Demi Chef at the Mandarin’s Italian restaurant, Mezzaluna.
This change was a challenge, considering he had never cooked Italian food before. He studied endless recipes and cooking techniques to become an effective Italian chef.
During this time Mezzaluna was one of the very best restaurants in Macau and he was able to work with numerous well-known foreign chefs who have now have made excellent careers for themselves.
After five years abroad, he felt it was time to return to his family and look after his mother and grandmother in Chiang Mai.
Through Mandarin Oriental Hotel group he was invited to return back to his roots of Thai cuisine at the Le Grand Lanna Restaurant at the Dhara Dhevi, the magnificent hotel in Chiang Mai, where he was promoted to Chef de Partie.
He enjoyed his time back in Thailand and especially to cook Thai food again. It was a great learning experience to be part of such an excellent hotel and improve his knowledge of Thai cuisine under the guidance of Chef Virat Kanja.
After another short stint in Singapore and Macau, Chef Thong Aek decided to return to Thailand and settle down. He joined his first hotel with American-style management, the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa, and worked there for one year at its Cucina Italian restaurant.
He later joined the Crown Plaza as chef de cuisine of its Patio restaurant. He enjoyed taking care of Patio, working with his team and teaching them new dishes and techniques. In the meanwhile he also gained official chef certifications that qualified him to work as a chef in Europe.
After his wide-ranging 16-year culinary journey, Chef Thong Aek now brings his wealth of experience to Centara Anda Dhevi Resort & Spa Krabi as head chef.
As the head of the kitchen department he will not only be using his cooking skills, but also develop his knowledge of department finances, planning, organising and developing both products and people.
Chef Thong Aek says: “It is my pleasure and pride to join the Centara family as I have received the opportunity to show my skills, develop myself, and more over, I have a chance to develop others.”
George Kenton, General Manager, says: “We are delighted and excited to have you on our team Chef Ake, and look forward seeing you continue your fascinating journey with us in Krabi.”