Famous Thai street-food chef wins Icon Award
A street food chef who earned a Michelin star and a global reputation for her masterful takes on Thai cuisine has won the Icon Award Asia 2021 from the 50 Best Restaurants Awards.
“I am grateful to be recognized for my hard work and craftsmanship. This is truly the reward of a lifetime for an ordinary chef like me,” said Supinya Junsuta, popularly known as Jay Fai.
Jay Fai has been cooking up a storm at her shophouse restaurant in Bangkok’s old quarter for 40 years. A seamstress who lost everything in a fire, she turned to cooking street food in a cart to get back on her feet and eventually opened up a shophouse, as many vendors do.
“Most importantly, I hope everyone can learn from my story that dedication, hard work and patience can help you achieve your goals,” she said about how she rose from the ashes of a tragedy to achieve international recognition.
The World’s 50 Best website wrote that after being told by her mother that she did not have the skill nor palate to follow in her footsteps as a chef, she applied a methodical learning process to master the art of cooking.
“Jay Fai viewed her mother’s words as a challenge and set about dissecting dishes with scientific accuracy, looking at the composition of each ingredient and how it responded to heat and fat, before coming up with her own twists on the recipes she had always eaten.”
To set herself apart from the competition, she began experimenting by altering traditional recipes until she created unique blends of spices and ingredients that made her dishes unique and sumptuous.
“If we cook using the same traditional methods, we don’t need to change or improve anything. But in this day and age, people change. With this change in lifestyle, the food changes too – whether it would be changed in flavor or how we cook, food evolves over time,” she once told the Bangkok Post.