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Chef’s recipes, gourmet restaurants, exotic flavours, even street food

Chef du jour: Panacea Retreat

in Destinations/Dining by

Breathtaking 360-degree panoramas of Koh Samui’s spectacular coastline are aplenty at Panacea Retreat, one of Southeast Asia’s most luxurious villa complexes. Get ready to have your notions of a luxury villa redefined. Panacea Retreat is the best of the best, and you will be hard-pressed to find anything like it anywhere in the world.

Praana Residence is Panacea’s prized jewel, a six-bedroom villa with an entire floor dedicated to pleasure and entertainment. Unlike anything you may have seen before, this is the quintessential party house. Dance the night away in your very own nightclub, replete with disco balls, a saltwater aquarium and state-of-the-art lighting. Pursue your fitness goals in a gym with the latest and highest-end equipment. Do a movie marathon in the enormous private theatre fitted with plush black leather sofa chairs. Or play a game of pool or poker in the games room. One of the best features, and a delight for sports enthusiasts, is an official competition size Thai boxing ring – where famous athletes have given a left hook and a jab. Two swimming pools, a sauna, spa and steam took round out Praana, which doesn’t forget other members of the group: a well-equipped, air-conditioned nursery will entertain your while you play. And did we mention the court for those who want to enjoy a game or two of tennis? Or the grand piano in the massive peak-roofed living pavillion. Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it?

For smaller groups, the other villas in the compound – Villas Avasara and Atulya, offer five luxurious bedrooms and Villas Kalya and Purana, four bedrooms. However, each villa maintains the level of excellence and luxury, that Praana sets the gold standard for.

We sat down with estate Chef Sommai, who has worked all over the globe, for some insight into what it takes to cook for the distinguished guests at splendid Panacea.

Elite Havens: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Chef Sommai: My name is Sommai Phetsukhum . I’m 52 years old and I’ve been working in the kitchen for 34 years. Over the years, I’ve worked in Phuket, Koh Samui, Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Turkey.

EH: What kind of food do you specialise in?

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Get Ready to Be Wowed at Cape Yamu, Phuket

in Destinations/Dining/Recreation by

If you are seeking tranquillity, seclusion and endless sea views, consider planning your next holiday at Cape Yamu, Phuket. This remote peninsula is located on the eastern side of the island, overlooking the picturesque Phang Nga Bay. Cape Yamu is both topographically and metaphorically a cut above other popular tourist spots in Phuket. While it has evolved from a predominantly fishing and farming community, Cape Yamu remains set against a breathtaking and diverse natural environment peppered with traditional villages enclosed within rubber, coconut and cashew plantations. It is now considered an exclusive holiday destination unashamedly preferred by those seeking a unique and luxurious holiday experience.  

Cape Yamu is home to a variety of elite havens, and each luxurious holiday home boasts sensational sea views, attentive staff and finely appointed amenities. Whichever haven you choose, you are assured of the very highest level of service, and exclusive access to the Elite Concierge, to organise day trips, excursions, transport and everything in between.

Here are top three reasons you should pick Cape Yamu for your next Thailand holiday:

World-Class Dining

When you stay at an elite haven, you have access to personal chefs who have been trained in some of the best professional kitchens in the country. Your villa chef will be happy to stir up a delicious meal for your entire group. From Thai specialities to International favourites, each dish will have you craving for more. However, if you wish for a change of scene, you are spoilt for choice too. Catering to globe-trotting travellers, the east coast has a classy dining scene.  Nahmyaa Thai Restaurant, at COMO Point Yamu Resort, boasts of localised favourites with a healthy twist. Seafood lovers will love everything on the menu at Laem Hin Seafood, which offers flavourful Thai dishes, to be enjoyed against the backdrop of sea views that extend till Coconut Island. If you want to be adventurous, hop aboard a long-tail boat and dine at one of the floating restaurants just offshore.

Yachting Adventures

Ask the Elite Concierge to organise a yacht or speedboat for your group and head out into the deep blue. Phang Nga Bay, often featured in movies and shows, is famous for little limestone cliff islands, mangrove forests and floating villages.

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Enjoy Gastronomic Delights at Selong Selo

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Foodies and gastronomy aficionados are sure to have a great time at Selong Selo Resort & Residences in Lombok, which arguably has the best food on the island. The estate is built on the ethos of community-tourism and eco-friendly initiatives. It offers a slice of unadulterated paradise, and the chance to connect with oneself, amidst serenity and natural splendour, with a minimal eco-footprint.  

Selong Selo’s farm-to-table dining is an extension of this very ethos.  Seafood served here is freshly caught by local fishermen, and the local youth are offered food service training and career opportunities in the estate’s kitchen and restaurant. The founders of Selong Selo are keenly progressing in their vision and offering of a community food system.  This revolutionary approach allows the integration of production, processing, distribution and consumption as one, to enhance the environmental, economic, social and nutritional health of a particular place.

The estate has a garden complete with its own chickens and its own organic farm, which grows vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, beans, kale, etc. They even have an herb garden with parsley, thyme and a wealth of other plants, herbs and spices. Because chemicals have been virtually eliminated from Selong Selo’s dining ethos, you can be assured of only the best produce and ingredients being used in the delicious food you are served. What’s more, your kids can also enjoy tours of the chicken and vegetable farms, to get close to nature and see how livestock and plants are grown.

If a gastronomic holiday with astounding sea views sounds like a great experience, you will love your stay at Selong Selo, where each private pool luxury villa comes with a fully equipped kitchen to create gourmet masterpieces. Don’t worry about ingredients. The butler is on-hand and can arrange for groceries to be delivered straight to your doorstep. Cooking made easy. 

There is a large variety of dining options in Selong Selo, so get going and enjoy the fresh, farm-to-table goodness.

Aura Lounge and Bar

The estate’s restaurant, Aura Lounge and Bar, which enjoys fabulous views from its hilltop location, serves delicious pizzas, sandwiches, pasta and main dishes. If you’re craving to try something more local, select one of the plates native to Lombok, like their sumptuous Nasi Goreng.

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Chef du jour: Niseko Gourmet’s Sushi Master

in Destinations/Dining by

Niseko Gourmet complements your adrenaline-packed snow adventure holiday with an exceptional dining service, ensuring you are replenished and re-energized daily. All of your culinary requirements are catered for, from grocery shopping to gourmet food delivery and even in-chalet private chef dining experiences. A favourite with both locals and visitors, Niseko Gourmet has satisfied discerning palates for more than twelve years. Chef Kamada-San is a sushi master and an integral part of the Niseko Gourmet success story.  Starting as a 15-year-old and with a career spanning more than 50 years – Chef Kamada-San is credited as a founding influence on the Niseko food renaissance. As one of Niseko Gourmet’s longest-standing chefs and its sushi master, it was an honour to chat with him and savour his signature dishes!

Elite Havens: Hi, Chef Kamada-san. When and how did you make the move to Niseko?

Chef Kamada-san: When I was working in a sushi restaurant in Sendai (early 1972), a diner walked up to me and said that his friend needed some help at his restaurant in Kutchan. I decided to take the opportunity and made the move, where I worked for 3 years and coincidentally also where I met my wife. She was a loyal customer, and, from memory, I think it was me who said the first words to her. After we got married, we both went on to open our own sushi restaurant in Kutchan and operated it for 35 years.

EH: How did you come to work at Niseko Gourmet?

CK: I think it was meant to be, that at the time my restaurant shut, I met Tess Stomsky (the founder of Niseko Gourmet) and then began serving quality sushi to the customers of Niseko Gourmet.

EH: What makes you happiest at work?

CK: When my customers are at their most content, I am too. I also just love making sushi. The process and the pursuit of perfection gives me joy.

EH: What are you thinking of when you make each piece of nigiri?

CK: I am always focused on my customers and giving them the best food possible.

EH: What are some of your most memorable experiences?

CK: Working with different staff members from different countries.

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A Savoury Autumn with Niseko’s Food Festivals

in Culture/Destinations/Dining by

While Niseko is renowned the world over for its powder snow, and Japan is said to be most beautiful during sakura (cherry blossom season), locals will tell you a secret that not many tourists know. It is perhaps the world’s best kept secret that it is in Autumn, when Japan’s countryside truly shines. The leaves changing colour as fall approaches, a slight nip in the air, and autumn produce hitting the wet market, all of this makes for a magical vacation, before the crowds descend on the slopes.

Besides the beauty of its countryside, Hokkaido’s produce is what has gained the island a reputation few places in the world enjoy. It is only natural then, that Niseko and nearby Sapporo have in recent years developed a vibrant food scene, of Michelin star status. Most of these world class restaurants are booked solid through the winter months. But if you want to get a taste of Hokkaido’s best gourmet food, the autumn food festivals in Niseko and Sapporo are the best places to do so.

Sapporo Autumn Food Festival  

Attracting over two million visitors each year, the Sapporo Autumn Festival is Hokkaido’s largest gourmet event, now in its twelfth year. Spread out over the better part of the month, the event is scheduled to be held from 6-29 September, 2019.

Hokkaido has four distinct seasons which define the local life. The white winter gives way to sakura, when the snow melts into fresh spring water, essential for enriching the multitude of crops that grow here in summertime. Autumn is harvest season, when the locals enjoy the fruits of their labour and thanks to food fests like this one, now you can too.

A large island, Hokkaido is vast not only in geographical terms, but also in the variety of its produce and cuisines produced thereof. Due to the local ingredients used, Sapporo’s ramen is distinctly different from that of Asahikawa, both equally delicious. The country’s northernmost city of Wakkanai is said to have the best quality of uni (sea urchin) and salmon roe. But it may not be possible for everyone to travel across the island to try all these delicious dishes. Sapporo Autumn Food Festival comes to your rescue, a place where you can try food from more than 100 municipalities across the prefecture,

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