Amerigo Sesti Talks to Top 25 Restaurants
Italian native Chef Amerigo Sesti has worked in a number of Michelin-starred establishments throughout Europe in his quest for achieving culinary excellence. Before relocating to Thailand he honed his skills to a fine degree at Jean-Michel Lorain’s Côte Saint Jacques, itself the holder of Michelin stars, under the tutelage of Jean-Michel himself.
Was yours a conscious decision to become a chef or did you find you fell into it?
When I was very young, my first desire was to be a baker, for childish unexplainable reasons. I liked the night and the idea of working while the world sleeps. Then an incurable love for sweets made me change my mind, and I thought I would become a pastry chef. No one could eat more “confetti” back in those days! Then a picture of freedom started forming my mind. Working in a kitchen, becoming a chef! Traveling and absorbing cultures; it felt like a biological need. Performing a script of unlimited options, creating, playing and pleasing. I always liked what was different, reached for it, and admired it. Eccentric by nature, I needed to look for a path that could keep me alive and burning.
What are some emerging food trends that you’re noticing?
Beauty over flavours, experience over taste, and 20 teaser bites of fried air for memories of the intangible.
What’s an emerging ingredient that you’re using a lot of these days?
I cannot think of one specifically, but since I arrived in Thailand, shallots, green mango, tamarind and bai cha cram have become recurrent in some of my recipes.
What would you cook at home if you were just making a laid-back dinner?
Most certainly a pasta.
What’s the difference between running a restaurant in your home country and running one in Bangkok?
Hard to tell as I have never run one in my home country.
Do you source as much local produce as possible for each restaurant and does this have a big impact on the menu?
As much as possible it should be most of it, but we are still far from that stage. We started introducing many local ingredients in our menus almost 3 years ago and it has been a constant discovery so far. It is a great opportunity to have the chance to play around with many products new to French cuisine.
How is people’s relationship with food different in South East Asia?
I’m from Italy and, as in France, people have an almost sacred place in their daily life for food. Here in Thailand food seems to be just as important to people but the tempo for it isn’t quite as defined. Whatever food at whatever time of the day might be considered, according to an individual’s feelings.
Did you find anything that shocked you?
The combination of sweet and fishy products for snacks I just can’t understand and the general sweetness in savoury preparations.
Is there one dish that sums up your style?
That would be very reductive. If we are good enough as chefs we can create signature dishes, and if we are lucky enough we can achieve a masterpiece, but for as good as it might be, that can’t sum up years of work, research and fantasy that are cemented into taste. At least that’s what I think.
Will any of the dishes you discovered recently be making their way onto your restaurant menus?
If by operating in Thailand you mean Thai dishes that I tasted, I’d say that I would never dare doing any kind of Asian fusion in my cuisine. I enjoy using local ingredients very much, but always processing them though my experience, my background and basically French techniques. I don’t think deforming a local dish or flavour should be approached lightly, but it’s good if we can take a product and be free to use it, transform it. A flavour or a dish that belongs to a culture different from our own one takes way more time to be understood, absorbed and then ready to be reinterpreted as we feel.
If you had to up sticks and move somewhere other than Bangkok, where would you go?
I think that somewhere down in South America could be a pretty fun new playground, but a preliminary exploration trip would be needed to choose the exact destination.
Do you try out dishes on your family or friends?
I do with other chefs and my team; with some of them we are close enough to call each other friends. My girlfriend is a picky eater and therefore not the best person to test dishes on. My family is 10,000km away.
What do you think the most important qualities are in a young chef?
Curiosity, dedication, perseverance, imagination.
What do you think about chefs like Gordon Ramsay, who have taken haute cuisine to the masses via reality TV?
They opened a new door and sparked a lot of glittering light on a chef’s career, but now we need to bring young chefs back to reality and re-educate people with regard to taste. Dangerous things come from the certainty of knowing what we actually don’t.
What’s the one cooking tool that a guy should not be without?
What’s your “culinary” dreams?
Three Michelin Stars in Antarctica, before it melts away.