“What’s most important to me,” says Chef Ekapan, “are authenticity and inter-action with our guests. That’s why I’ve made a specialty of tableside service.”
Since being appointed Chef de Cuisine, he has become a familiar sight to regular guests at Brasserie 9, preparing signature dishes such as Beef Tartare and Frog Legs as the delighted diners admire his expertise and flair.
“Truly authentic French cooking is hard to find in Bangkok. I like our guests to see how we prepare the ingredients by traditional methods and cook them in the original style. Then they can relax and feel confident they’re enjoying the real thing.”
It was almost inevitable that Ekapan Buranakul would become a chef who focuses on one of the world’s greatest cuisines. Born thirty-eight years ago in the north east of Thailand, he grew up with both a fascination for cooking and an international outlook.
While other youngsters kicked a football around, he headed for the kitchen. “I used to love watching my grandmother cook big meals for all the family,” he recalls. Soon, young Ekapan was allowed to help, and his schooling in the arts of the kitchen began.
Meanwhile, the family were on the move, as his soldier dad secured postings overseas. By the time he was four, they were living in the United States, discovering the vast range of culinary styles then to be found in most American cities.
Back in Thailand, he started his career specializing in Chinese food, but soon decided it didn’t “work” for him. He got himself enrolled at a forward-looking vocational college, and sought out training in European cuisine. “I came to feel more relaxed and happy. I knew I’d found my direction in life.”
He rose swiftly through the ranks in several prestigious international hotels before moving to the Michelin-starred Mezzaluna Restaurant under the legendary twins, Thomas and Mathias Suhring. “These maestros taught me the true meaning of fine dining.” By the time he moved to Brasserie 9 on its opening in 2013, he had achieved the rank of Head Chef and was wholly dedicated to French cuisine.
Under his direction, the kitchen at Brasserie 9 delivers all the famous dishes you’d expect, made extra memorable by what Chef Ekapan calls “a little bit of a twist”. His Bouillabaisse has won widespread applause, as has his pan-seared Foie Gras and caramelized peach with maple syrup, diced lemon and a hint of peach Schnapps. That’s not to mention another of the creations he loves to prepare at tableside, flame-cooked Crêpes Suzettes.
“I believe Brasserie 9 gives our guests the most classic, feel-like-home French cuisine in Bangkok.” No doubt his grandmother would approve when he adds: “There’s nowhere I would rather be and no work I would rather do.”