With more than 27 years experience in the hospitality industry, Suksant Chutinthratip - known as Chef Billy - finds being a chef a rewarding career in so many ways. Lucky to start his career in one of the world’s best hotels, Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, as a part-time cook’s helper, Chef Billy soon discovered what he loves to do.
“[Cheffing] involves being creative and experimenting with your craft, bringing diners joy through food, managing, guiding and mentoring your team, contributing to the overall success of your hotel and being accountable, working in different destinations around the world, and then some.”
His career has taken him to Dubai and Singapore and Chef Billy has had the opportunity to join hotel teams pre-opening, working with professional chefs to establish something new and exciting, whilst implementing effective training programs to ensure the team is as cohesive and effective as possible.
Now at Meliá Chiang Mai, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Chef Billy is proud of what he and his team have achieved in the first five-star hotel to open in Chiang Mai since the onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
“We look forward to welcoming people back to this stunning part of the world with excellent dining experiences!”
Chef Billy loves to experiment with new ingredients and exchange ideas with other local chefs.
“I thrive on bringing out certain tastes in new and exciting ways.”
Meliá Chiang Mai, as a hotel, draws on Meliá Spanish origins and pays tribute to Spain’s famed gastronomy. At the hotel’s Laan Na Kitchen, Chef Billy serves Serranito Bocadillo with blistered northern Thai green peppers straight from Spain’s original Serranito sandwich with a distinct Northern Thai twist.
“Food is like fashion; if a recipe is good enough, it will last forever and if not, it will stay for a short time and then it’s gone. I strive for my dishes to last forever.”
Very much focussed on ‘thoughtful cooking’, Chef Billy minimises food waste by using as much of each ingredient as possible - roots, leaves, stems, stalks and more. Meliá Chiang Mai has a ‘360° Cuisine’ concept, with farm-to-plate efforts in sourcing organic produce that travels only a short distance to the hotel, using every part of an ingredient they can and returning leftovers to the hotel’s organic farm to compost is truly a 360° experience. Under the program, the hotel’s kitchens work closely with local farmers to help improve sustainability practices and encourage ethical production, in an effort to make communities and the overall food system more resilient. Leftover cooking oil is also sent to be recycled into biodiesel.
“From the outset, myself and the team at Meliá Chiang Mai have been inspired by the need to promote healthy eating and care for the environment. I believe that sustainability practices make our hotel stand out and set a positive example for the rest of the industry to follow. We want to give our guests peace of mind about where their food comes and believe they prefer to consume products that do not harm the environment.”
Chef Billy found the Covid-19 pandemic prompted a new set of trends, ranging from a heightened focus on health and safety to a guest focus on budget with higher expectations.
“We need to tailor offers and promotions, and continually find new and unique ways to personalise a customer’s experience to keep a competitive edge.”
For the future of the hospitality industry, Chef Billy hopes hotels will remain competitive to ensure retention of employees with strong qualities, skills and knowledge. He views the new generation of chefs as fluid, with changing needs and expectations.
“Chef’s must have passion and dedication, and must work really hard. You have to enjoy what you do every day. Natural talent will only be a bonus point for you.”
Chef Billy’s personal future goals are continued success on the food sustainability front, and promoting healthy eating efforts to guests the world over.