Interview: Ahlan! Talks Thai Cooking in Doha with Isaan’s Chef de Cuisine
Chef de Cuisine Wachira Chaipinidnorrachart came to Doha in 2008 to open the Grand Hyatt’s signature Thai restaurant Isaan. He’s returned from Thailand to bring us some more intriguing culinary experiences with a fresh new menu.
Welcome back to Doha. Where have you been and what has brought you back?
After spending seven years in the Middle East, I felt it was time for me to go home and spend some time with my family. I opened my own small restaurant (in Thailand), that my family is now taking care of. But after some time, I felt it was time to come back. Isaan is my restaurant, I love it, when I came here it was nothing, there were electric wires hanging out the ceilings and walls, there were no tables, nothing. I was there from the start so I had to come back to it and help it grow and improve even more.
What inspired you to become a chef?
I have no idea what inspired me to become a chef, it just became a natural progression of things. In my first year of hotel school I found it boring, especially in the offices doing the same thing day in and out, but in my second year I really enjoyed the diversity of cooking and the challenges and I guess it just went from there.
What new or interesting things are you planning to try in Isaan in 2014?
Everyone in Doha knows the usual Thai dishes. I want to bring them something that not even some Thai people will know about. Many recipes have been around for hundreds of years but were exclusively reserved for royal families. I have been lucky enough to learn these recipes from my mentor and chef in Dubai and am excited to share them with everyone.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?
I think I would be involved in small businesses, probably something outdoors, as I have always loved being in nature and fishing. Maybe I would have started a small business in travel and leisure.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Although I can be tough on my team, the best part of my job is watching them grow.
Jessica tries some Isaan dishes
Apart from Thai cuisine, what are your favourite world cuisines?
Italian, I love pizza. My first job ever was as a pizza man, doing everything from making it to delivering it.
What is your favourite item on the Isaan menu?
Rice noodle with peanut curry.
What would you say are the corner stones of your food philosophy?
Authenticity. For example, at Isaan, we steam and serve our sticky rice in a bamboo basket, which is essential to flavour and just the way we do it in Thailand. I also believe that sharing is important as it opens up the range of taste for everyone.
What are your favourite three places in Doha?
Well, Isaan first and foremost, I spend most of my time here. I love Villaggio and I really enjoy going to Souq Waqif at night and seeing all the people and how they live.
What is it about Thai culture that attracts people?
The Thai people are warm and welcoming. We are always smiling; sometimes we don’t even notice it.
- WIN! WIN! WIN! Ahlan! and the Grand Hyatt Doha are giving away a dinner for two to experience Isaan’s all you can eat curry night. To enter, go to the competition section of this website – but hurry, the competition ends Saturday!
INFO: Isaan is open for dinner daily 6:30pm-11:30pm and for lunch on Friday from 12:30pm-4:00pm, Grand Hyatt Doha, West Bay Lagoon, 7021 8097, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.restaurants.doha.grand.hyatt.com