Australia and Thailand might share an Eastern hemisphere, but it’s still hardly typical for an Australian chef to—credibly—claim authority on Thai cuisine. But David Thompson has developed such a passion for Thai cooking that the chef has not only made a life’s work of it, he’s made it his avocation—a passion that consumes his every day.
Thompson’s first temples to Thai food were erected on his home continent. Darley Streetand Sailor’s Thai opened in Sydney in 1992 and 1995, respectively. Since their debuts, the restaurants have enjoyed both public and critical praise and steady success. In fact, Thompson’s Thai cuisine got so much notice that in 2001, Christina Ong tapped him to open a restaurant at London’s Halkin Hotel. Nahm opened to immediate critical acclaim, earning a Michelin star in six months. (Most recently it was named one the top 100 restaurants in the San Pellegrino list.) Meanwhile, the bi-continental Thompson was named “Professional of the Year” by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide in 2001 and the “London Chef of the Year” at the Carlton Evening Standard Food Awards in 2003.
In September of 2010, Thompson took his first professional step into the land that inspired him, opening Nahm at the Metropolitan Hotel in Bangkok to both acclaim and controversy. But even if the question of his authority in Thai cooking might ruffle some local feathers, Thompson continues to partake, and share, everything possible about the cuisine that has so thoroughly enthralled him. Cookbooks like Thai Food and Thai Street Food continue to garner praise and awards—a solid testament Thompson’s knowledge and reverence of Thai cuisine.