Executive Chef Blair
Matheson joins the Chedi
“New World Pacific Rim” cuisine a speciality
On the evening of May 3, the management of the Chedi introduced their new
executive chef Blair Mathieson to the expat community in Chiang Mai at a
special ‘DJ Christof from Hong Kong & New World Tapas’ event. Tapas served
included sugar cured pork in champagne with apple jelly, watercress and
crostini, oysters fine de claire, with lime, mirin and salmon caviar and
spiced lamb kofta with fennel pine nuts, mint and yoghurt, washed down with
freely flowing Belvedere vodka cocktails
at the Chedi - Sopawat Koroeawang, Executive Chef Blair Mathieson and
Damrongrak Khnanwang (l/r).
Born in New Zealand, Chef Blair’s passion for food started at an early age
when he started his cooking apprenticeship in Auckland & then moved to the
Pier restaurant in Sydney, Australia for further experience, followed by a
move to Europe where he worked for 4 years in the United Kingdom & Portugal.
After that he went to the Montpelier Plantation Inn, Nevis, West Indies, an
exclusive boutique hotel in the Caribbean. 2006 saw another move, this time
Singapore as Executive Chef of the redeveloped Singapore Cricket Club.
Blair’s style of cooking is very global, encompassing many different
flavours & techniques from the Mediterranean, Europe, The Middle East and
Asia. At the Chedi he will be cooking a New World style of cuisine, focusing
on top quality ingredients & seasonal produce, keeping the dishes simple as
not to overshadow their natural flavours, and enhancing them by adding light
touches such as fresh herbs, citrus and olive oil. His emphasis will be on
quality rather than quantity, and he will be planning new dinner and lunch
Our reporter asked him why he had decided to become a chef. Blair replied
that his Mum is Hungarian - and therefore the family life evolved around the
kitchen, as food was a big part of the family. When asked what his favourite
national cuisine was, he replied that “I am most interested in seafood &
game meats; I like Asian food because of the great local produce available.
My cuisine could be called ‘New World, Pacific Rim’”. He added that his
favourite aspect of the job is travelling and getting to meet lots of new
people and places, and that working in Thailand differs from elsewhere in
that the country has great quality produce and good people to work with.
On the question of what does he like most about Chiang Mai, his reply was,
“People, lots of different restaurants and the scenery.” His opinion about
the kitchen in the Chedi was that it suited him fine, although because of
its smaller size we have to work the menu around it. When asked whether
their were any ingredients that could not be found locally, he replied that
the only problem was, as Chiang Mai is not near the ocean, seafood is being
flown in from Australia and other locations.
An unusual recital at Santi Music School
Thai counter-tenor sings early songs and arias
The counter tenor Ong-Ard Kanchaisak,
(left), is pictured here with pianists Phaphorn Chaimuk and Santi
Earlier this month Santi Saengtong invited music lovers to their studio
on Soi 5 Sirimangkhalajarn to listen to a very special “Sacred Songs and
Arias” recital given by the Thai counter-tenor Bong-Ard Kanchaisak. The
programme included what has become his signature song, the French
composer Gounod’s “Ave Maria”, together with other sacred songs such as
“Agnus Dei”, from the Coronation Mass, and Alleluia, from the religious
solo motet Exultate Jubilate. Arias included ‘O del mio dolce ardor’
from Paride ed Elena and ‘Che faro senza Euridice?’ from the opera Orfeo
ed Euridice. Admission was free on both evenings, and, as the recital
room seated only 30 people, an intimate atmosphere prevailed, in
concordance with the early music.
Everybody Needs A Buddy
Chiang Mai ToyRide gives stuffed animals
to hospitalized children
Off the road and room-to-room, Chiang Mai ToyRide committee
members and guests gave elephants, bears and bunnies to ailing children
and their families at Maharaj Hospital on April 30. After meeting with
hospital directors who received “nurse” bears, we rolled two carts
brimming with animals into the lobby and split into four small “teams”
which personally presented stuffed buddies to children in several wards:
cancer, kidney/chronic disease, heart disease, liver disease and ICU.
Helpful and gracious, the hospital staff and nurses assisted cheerfully
with our charitable task.
and co-founder Richy Wilson sharing a smile over a new stuffed buddy.
The experience for us was very emotional, somewhere between deep joy and
deep sadness. Although some smiled widely, overcoming their shyness of
strangers bearing gifts, many children were obviously subdued with
medicine, just out of surgery or wide-eyed with fear and confusion as
they waited with family members before treatment or an operation. Half
the size of their pink elephant buddies, babies laid in beds with tubes
attached to their miniature arms and legs, heads under breathing
apparatus, physically helpless and lacking any understanding of what was
happening in their new, tentative lives. With tears in its tiny eyes, a
one-year-old looked up as a stuffed buddy was set on his/her bed as we,
on the verge of tears, wondered whether the child was wordlessly trying
to say, “Thank you” or “Why don’t they just let me go?” Though the
buddies were brought for the afflicted children, the reality in many
cases was grim: the single mothers, fathers or parents would not bring
their little loved one home. They would only leave with a stuffed animal
to remember a few traumatic moments of life and death.
boy’s fear of imminent surgery is transformed into joy with his big
Founded in 1939, the Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital, locally known
as Suan Dok, is the largest hospital in northern Thailand that helps
less-fortunate folks through incredibly inexpensive governmental health
programs (as little as a 30 baht payment per person for a year) and
additional financial support from charitable donations from an
affiliated foundation. Here needy people are treated in modern
facilities by top notch local doctors, many of whom are on the Faculty
of Medicine at Chiang Mai University. In accordance with the Chiang Mai
ToyRide’s new mission of finding children who are “under the radar”,
Maharaj Hospital is an ideal place to give individually to poor children
and families, Thai or hill tribe, who have nowhere else to go for
necessary, life-saving medical services.
The Chiang Mai ToyRide committee presents an annual charity ride the
second Sunday after New Years Day to collect toys and raise funds to
bring joy to impoverished children, in partnership with the nonprofit
Give and Live, which handles the charitable disbursement for many
donation events in northern Thailand. On Sunday, 18 May, you’re invited
to be a part of our next ToyRide event: ride around the mountain to the
Samoeng School playground to help present toys, warm blankets, athletic
equipment and food to seventy-some children with family members from Mai
Lan Kham, a poor Karen village about 30 miles beyond in the mountains.
We’ll probably leave around 10 am from Chiang Mai, but check out our
website for more info, photos, other events in the works and a detailed
account of our fundraising and donations: www.chiangmaitoyride.com.
Please join us on May 18.
Chiang Mai ToyRide committee, guests and
from Maharaj Hospital before buddy delivery to the children.
Daeng Fantastic to perform
at the Sala Chalermkrung
Royal Theatre, Bangkok
Daeng Fantastic, pictured third right with
the Pink Panther, Wichai Poonyayanan, (fourth left), Ajarn Wirath
Yoothaworn, conductor of the Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre orchestra,
Wim Fagel, other band members and Khun Chalard.
Daeng Fantastic, well known across Thailand and
particularly in Chiang Mai, where he performs every Saturday night in the
lobby bar at the Amari Rincome, has been invited with his band to give a
concert at the famous Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre in Bangkok on May 25.
Deang’s iconic style of jazz, swing and blues, with the occasional belting
out of Elvis tunes, brings admirers into the hotel just to hear him play. In
response to frequent requests for Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington hits,
he’s been known to break out a vibraphone or guitar to enhance the mood.
Daeng has also played jazz with HM the King.
Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre is legendary for its performances of Khon,
traditional Thai dances of two hours’ duration based on Thai history and
ancient myths and legends. It was constructed as a Royal Project, financed
by King Rama VII, and opened in 1933. Since then it has been a venue for
films and the performing arts in general, as well as for the Khon dance. The
theatre was named in honour of the architect, Mom Chao Samaichalerm
Kridakara, and was built to celebrate Bangkok’s 150th anniversary.
Special guests at the concert will include Orawee Katjanont and Nantida
Kaewbua-Saai, both well known singers, along with the Pink Panther Band, who
will also perform with the Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre Orchestra.