Bo Songvisava

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Duangporn "Bo" Songvisava (born 1979/1980[1]) is a Thai chef and restaurateur. She and her husband, chef Dylan Jones, own and operate Bo.lan, a restaurant in Bangkok's Sukhumvit neighborhood. In 2018 Songvisava was profiled on the fifth season of the documentary series Chef's Table.

Early life and education[edit]

Duangporn Songvisava, nicknamed "Bo",[2] was born in Bangkok, Thailand,[3] to a Thai mother and a Taiwanese father.[4][5] She has four siblings.[6] Her parents owned and operated a canning business.[7] Growing up, she helped them cook Thai-Chinese food at home;[4] they were her inspiration to become a chef.[7] Her family also ate Western food, but Thai was her favorite.[8]

Songvisava wanted to go to culinary school,[8] but her parents urged her to go to college and earn a traditional degree. She studied English and French for two years until it became unbearable.[4] Thailand at the time had no culinary degree offerings, so she transferred to Griffith University's Hotel Management School[4] and took a business degree in Restaurant and Catering Management.[6] Unable to find a hotel job after graduating, she returned to Australia to study at the University of Adelaide and Le Cordon Bleu and graduated with a master's in Gastronomy.[2][4]

Career[edit]

Songvisava's first professional position was at Amanda Gale's Cy'an, a Mediterranean restaurant in Bangkok, as a commis 3.[6] While there, she was asked about Thai food by a visiting foreign chef and realized she knew very little about Thai food.[6] When she asked other local chefs, she discovered very few knew much about traditional Thai food.[6] Thailand at the time had few restaurants that cooked tradional Thai, as most catered to the palate of tourists.[6][9] In 2005[10] she took a position as a chef de partie[10] in London with David Thompson's Nahm, then seen as one of the world's best Thai restaurants and one of the few with a Michelin star.[6][11] She met her husband, then working as a sous chef there,[10] and in 2008[12] the couple moved to Thailand.[6]

In 2009, Songvisava and Jones opened Bo.lan in what was previously a bungalow-style home in Bangkok's Sukhumvit neighborhood.[4][10][13] It follows a slow food concept[14][15] and serves traditional Thai food.[2] The New York Times called it "perhaps Bangkok's first chic Thai restaurant."[16] The Daily Telegraph called the food "sophisticated but unpretentious."[17] Songvisava gets most of her inspiration from reading old cookbooks and from talking with farmers.[18][9] The restaurant name is a portmanteau of her and her husband's first names, chosen because it sounds like the Thai word for "classic".[2] The restaurant uses solar panels[19] and has its own vegetable garden and water filtration system and recycles waste.[3] It sources from local farmers and artisans,[4] and the wine list includes emerging Thai wineries.[20] It resists demanding organic certification because the bureaucratic paperwork might drive away farms, so Songvisava says, "I visit the farms and if I trust that they're doing organic, I buy from them."[19]

Songvisava taught food & beverage management and Thai cooking at two Thai universities and hosted a PBS show called Kin Yu Kue (Eat Live Be) covering food issues.[4][19]

In 2014 the couple hosted a pop-up in New York's Greenwich Village.[21]

In 2015, the couple opened Err, which translates to "yeah" in Thai, a casual dining restaurant serving street food.[19][13] Dishes are shared family style.[15] The New York Times called it "rustic drinking food with a focus on quality ingredients."[11]

In 2016 they hosted a pop-up in Hong Kong.[22]

In 2018 Songvisava was profiled on the fifth season of the documentary series Chef's Table.[6] That same year she was profiled on Swedish documentary series Four Hands Menu.[23]

In 2019 Jones and Songvisava judged the finals of Hyatt's Good Taste Series.[24]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Bo.lan has a Michelin star, awarded the first year Michelin put out a guide to Thailand.[25][26] CNN credited Jones and Songvisava, along with their mentor David Thompson, with "forcibly (and sometimes tactlessly) reacquainting Thai diners with their own culinary heritage."[25]

In 2013 Songvisava was named Asia's best female chef by 50 Best Restaurants in Asia, the inauguration of the award,[4][27] and Bo.lan was number 36 on the 50 Best Restaurants in Asia list.[12]

In 2017 it was named to the Culinary Institute of America's Plant-forward Global 50 list[28] and was 19th on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.[8]

In 2018 Bo.lan was named number 37 on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.[8]

In 2019 Bo.lan was named one of the 18 best restaurants in the world by World Restaurant Awards[29] and was 19th on S. Pellegrino & Acqua Panna Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.[13][3]

Personal life[edit]

Songvisava is married to Australian-born Dylan Jones.[3] The two met while working at London's Nahm and married in 2012.[3][10]The couple have two sons.[10][13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wattanasukchai, Sirinya (27 April 2013). "Let the food do the talking". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 22 August 2019. The 33-year-old was more than glad to receive the title although she was fully aware that the award would raise customers' expectations and she might not necessarily be the female chef boasting the best cooking technique in Asia.
  2. ^ a b c d Jie, Tang. "Chef Spotlight: Bo And Dylan Jones Of Bo.Lan In Bangkok". MICHELIN Guide. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Bo.Lan". The World's 50 Best Restaurants. Archived from the original on 20 June 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Pineda, Maida (3 February 2014). "Chef Bo Songvisava is breaking boundaries". Foodservice Consultants Society International. Archived from the original on 24 April 2017. Retrieved 21 July 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  5. ^ Downey, Tom (31 March 2015). "Bangkok's Curry Crusaders". Food&Wine. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Fuhrmeister, Chris (28 September 2018). "'Chef's Table' Recap: Bo Songvisava Preserves Traditional Thai Cuisine at Bo.Lan". Eater. Archived from the original on 12 May 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  7. ^ a b Verbruggen, Marie-Thérèse (1 January 2019). "CHEF DUANGPORN (BO) SONGVISAVA". Chasing the Bib. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d Burton, Monica (27 March 2018). "Asia's 50 Best Restaurants: Winners Announced for 2018". Eater. Archived from the original on 1 April 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  9. ^ a b Krich, John (6 May 2010). "Old School Thai in Bangkok". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Archived from the original on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 21 July 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  10. ^ a b c d e f Jin, Lian Szu (7 July 2017). "Couple behind top Thai restaurant hope their kids don't want to be chefs". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 30 March 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  11. ^ a b Gross, Matt (9 April 2018). "Where to Find Bangkok's Best Street Food While You Can". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 20 June 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  12. ^ a b Lethlean, John (19 July 2013). "Marriage Thais: Couple teach Bangkok how to cook". The Australian. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  13. ^ a b c d Abkowitz, Alyssa. "Chefs Bo Songvisava and Dylan Jones in a Thailand Townhouse". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 23 June 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  14. ^ "Netflix Announces 'Chef's Table' Seasons 5 and 6 Chefs". Food & Wine. Archived from the original on 11 May 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  15. ^ a b Dunston, Lara. "Err, Bangkok". Gourmet Traveller. Archived from the original on 8 November 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  16. ^ Bouchet, Ceil Miller (24 November 2010). "Authentic Thai Cuisine Moves in From Sidewalk Stalls". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  17. ^ O'Ceallaigh, John (1 April 2019). "Lessons in Luxury: why I have mixed feelings about my Bangkok Michelin-star mission". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  18. ^ "Bo Songvisava: Dreaming of a self-sustainable restaurant". Food and Wine Gazette. 10 November 2017. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  19. ^ a b c d "Activism in the Kitchen: Bangkok". Slow Food International. 20 July 2017. Archived from the original on 30 December 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  20. ^ "What I Learned from Andy Ricker on an Eating Tour of Thailand". Food & Wine. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  21. ^ McGarry, Kevin (6 June 2014). "Happenings | The Beloved Bangkok Eatery Bo.Lan Pops Up in New York". The New York Times Style Magazine. Archived from the original on 12 April 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  22. ^ Jenkins, Lucy. "Thai takeover with Bo.Lan's HK pop-up". The Drinks Business. Archived from the original on 20 April 2017. Retrieved 21 July 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  23. ^ "Four Hands Menu" Esben Holmboe Bang & Bo Songvisava (TV Episode 2018) - IMDb, retrieved 21 July 2019
  24. ^ Gibson, Amber. "Hyatt's Secret Cooking Competition Crowns A New World Champion". Forbes. Archived from the original on 5 April 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  25. ^ a b CNN, Tim Footman (21 April 2017). "Michelin Guide to launch in Bangkok". CNN Travel. Archived from the original on 14 May 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  26. ^ Vichit-Vadakan, Vincent (19 December 2017). "Thai restaurants reach for the Michelin stars". Good Food. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  27. ^ Conde, Tiff (8 March 2017). "Bo Songvisava on Being a Female Chef". Esquire Phillipines. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  28. ^ Judkis, Maura (29 June 2017). "These are the 50 best places in the world to eat your vegetables". The Washington Post. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  29. ^ Hosie, Rachel. "The world's 18 best restaurants, dishes, and chefs to know about in 2019". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 13 July 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)