David Thompson and Ning Najpinij of Khao Cooking School preparing for Thompson's dinner at the Four Seasons Bangkok's World Gourmet Festival.
In addition to taking part in and blogging about this year's Four Seasons Bangkok World Gourmet Festival, I also got the opportunity to put on the whites and spend a couple afternoons in the kitchen, lending a hand to prepare David Thompson's Thai meals.
This meant the unique opportunity to share a kitchen with chefs such as Thompson and Christine Manfield, not to mention the pleasure of working with the Four Season's talented and amazingly hospitable kitchen staff:
As I believe I run a risk of exaggerating my part in all of this, let me make it clear that my role was strictly that of kitchen slave (Thompson's term, not mine). My contribution was limited to such technically advanced tasks as arranging quail eggs on a platter, peeling grilled chilies and stirring very heavy pots:
A crappy iPhone pic of me, pitching in to make Thai sweets for David Thompson's dinner at the Four Seasons Bangkok's World Gourmet Festival
It was only on the second day that I was allowed to touch a knife (with it I clumsily and slowly scored several kilos of squid), but over the two days I was able to see how several dishes were made, taste heaps of interesting food and provide input on their taste, and generally see what goes on inside the kitchen of a high-level restaurant. It was a fun and revealing experience. I've worked in a few kitchens since I was a teenager, but it's been a very long time since those days, and I'd forgotten how physically difficult it can be to stand for hours on end, just how hot kitchens are, and the risk that fingers constantly face from lazy knife work, scalding hot liquids, searing chilies and the enduring odour of squid.