by: Peter Montemayor, Executive Chef
I decided to go abroad to work and pursue my dream of becoming a chef while learning more about other cuisines and culture.
I already spent some time in local islands; having lived in Cebu for 5 years and another 5 years in Boracay, so I thought it was time for me to move on. I wanted to find work in another island, and luckily enough, I got an opportunity to work and live in Koh Samui, an island in the Gulf of Thailand, located south of Bangkok. It was a great opportunity to learn more about Thailand’s food and culture. I ended up living in Koh Samui for a little over 5 years.
I landed a job as an executive chef for an international beach club, Nikki Beach, which also has branches all over Europe. Nikki Beach was always packed especially on Sundays, which is when we offer a special Sunday brunch. During my free time, I would go relax at the beach or at the pool near my accommodations, which was conveniently located near the mountains. It was very quiet, allowing me to immerse in nature.
What I loved the most living in Samui was that despite it being an island, it has a little bit of everything you need. Samui is a large island – with 4 areas for tourists but there was also an area for locals to gather and enjoy.
I really enjoyed Nathon, the local spot for commerce and also where the port was located. Each night in Nathon, the streets come alive with vendors hawking a wide variety of delicious Thai street food. It was a favorite of locals, so you can be sure the Thai food was authentic. From phad thai to fried crickets, they had everything.
Another thing I like is how they celebrate the Songkran festival, which is the Thai new year. During Songkran, Samui, as well as the rest of Thailand, celebrate by throwing water at everyone. Even tourists are invited to participate and splash water at each other for an entire day.
I also enjoyed the way Thais indulge in their own cuisine: they eat several varieties of food at a time, even in small amounts. The locals are very nice, but first I had to learn how to communicate in Thai which took me a few years. What I loved most about it is was knowing I’m on an island but it still enabled me to do a lot of things, without sacrificing the island vibe that I also loved.
I miss everything about Koh Samui… but you’ll have to live there to see what I mean.