Not just a cookbook: Kin Thai, a deep-dive into John Chantarasak's unique style, merging traditional Thai and modern British food

The  Staff Canteen

John Chantarasak, chef and co-founder of acclaimed fine dining concept, AngloThai, is set to release his first cookbook

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KIn Thai by John Chantarasak

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Many chefs will relate to the story of how John came to create Kin Thai - meaning 'Eat Thai', which he wrote during lockdown.

However, a book was not his initial plan. What would later become Kin Thai started off as a newsletter, where John shared recipes from his restaurant, Anglo Thai, for people to try at home.

But when in the summer of 2020, publisher Hardie Grant reached out to him, offering him a book deal and free reign to write whatever he wanted, he found the offer too hard to refuse.

Yum Makhua Yao
Smoky Aubergine Salad with Soft-boiled Egg

A cookbook of two heritages

While it is a conventional style cookbook in that it contains recipes, and that those recipes are broken down into categories style of dishes from Thailand - salads, soups, stir-fries, curries, snacks, sweet things - it also reflects the chef's mixed heritage.

John is half-Thai, so many of his recipes were inspired by his family, his own travels and experiences working in restaurants in Thailand, but, he said, "I try not to turn my back on my British heritage."

"I really burrow down deeply into what's seasonal in the UK, what the taste profiles are of things in this country and try and relate that to ingredients that I know from south-east Asia and Thailand in particular. So, my style is very much cooking Thai recipes but using very British produce to get those dishes to fruition.”

Thai Food from the UK

As well as its 80+ recipes, the book's first six chapters touch on the similar flavour profiles across British and traditional Thai larders, comparing equipment & techniques used in both repertoires.

His book also offers an insight into Thailand's four main food regions, and "how different socio-economic backgrounds, weather, and climate" define what is eaten where.

"Then I talk about the British Isles and the different kinds of climates and produce that you find seasonally," helping to explain how he creates his dishes.

Mamuang Khao Neow
Mango with Sweet Sticky Rice

The recipes

The chef hopes people - and namely, other chefs - will enjoy his recipes. But for him, what makes his book different is the story behind it.

"I didn't want it to be a very conventional cookbook," he said. "I want people to be able to go through and cook recipes but the caveat is you need to read the first six chapters - which is something like 50 pages - to understand the mentality of what I am trying to talk about."

"I feel this will be a really nice resource for people and actually, even if people don't end up cooking from it that much, it's just a really beautifully put together book with lots of information and I think it'll be a nice read for most people that are interested in food, and particularly Thai food."

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th May 2022

Not just a cookbook: Kin Thai, a deep-dive into John Chantarasak's unique style, merging traditional Thai and modern British food