Vol. VII No. 20 - Tuesday
May 13 - May 19, 2008

Dining Out & Entertainment
Social Scene
Chiang Mai FeMail
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Updated every Tuesday
by Saichon Paewsoongnern

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Executive Chef Blair Matheson joins the Chedi

An unusual recital at Santi Music School

Everybody Needs A Buddy

Daeng Fantastic to perform at the Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre, Bangkok

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

Chefs 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 menus.
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 Saengtong.

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

Scott Jones
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.

Vice-president 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.

This boy’s fear of imminent surgery is transformed into joy with his big elephant buddy!
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 directors
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.

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