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Meet Anantara’s Culinary King The Proof Really is in the Pudding
Chef Don Lawson has been delighting guests’ palates at Anantara Bophut Resort and Spa since the luxurious Koh Samui hideaway first opened in 2004. His imaginative expertise was put to excellent use in devising unique culinary concepts, cooking classes and opportunities to learn the finer points of perfect food and wine pairing. At Anantara, Chef Don has free reign to dish up distinctive Thai and Italian flavours for guests, keeping the passionate chef burning the culinary candles at both ends.
A stickler for perfection, Chef Don is adamant about the importance of pushing the boat out when it comes to food. “If you never try, you never know! As a chef it’s essential to never get discouraged. As I always say to my students, if you make a mistake when cooking, as we all have, think what an amazing lesson you’ve just learnt and use that to your advantage.
Chef Don demonstrated his devotion to gastronomy from an early age. At just 17 years old he was offered a four year apprenticeship, at the famous Southern Cross Club in Canberra, Australia. He recalls, “I really enjoyed the work and thought that if I learned the art of cooking I would get to eat grand cuisine, and never go hungry for life’s gourmet pleasures! I still remember receiving my first monthly pay cheque of 80 Australian dollars - it didn’t last long but it felt great to be paid for doing something I love, and with a bit of extra effort to show how serious I was about progressing further, the Executive Chef saw my potential.”
Fast forward twenty five years later, the boy from Oz now calls Thailand home and for Chef Don, the wonderful local produce and seafood means that the world is his oyster in terms of creativity. His recent infused food pairing with tea giants Dilmah has also inspired an Anantara Tea Guru program. It is through this flair that the gastronomic genius has become an instrumental part of a dedicated team of culinary experts at Anantara, developing new concepts and signatures dishes, thus ensuring that guests enjoy his culinary influence at all Anantara hotels and resorts.
Whether it’s touring the local spice markets, leading a cooking class or holding a banquet for visiting dignitaries you’ll be sure to see Chef Don passing on and sharing his cooking tips passionately with guests and discussing the best ingredients possible to create simple yet effective flavorsome dishes. It is this expertise that guests take away with them and bring Don’s fusion techniques to dinner tables around the world.
On his success he explains, “I cook because it fulfills something inside of me. There’s no better feeling of satisfaction and gratitude than knowing that my guests are leaving feeling “Wow - that was a wonderful experience!” It’s also great to meet so many different people from around the world, sharing experiences and gaining friends. To be successful you have to be 100% committed and instead of counting up the long hours I’ve put in, I stack up the results, and this reminds me of how far I’ve come.”