What Matters To Me: Napol Jantraget, Chef And Co-Owner Of Bangkok Restaurant 80/20
In the What Matters To Me series, a Generation T honouree describes what they do, why they do it, and why it matters
Napol Jantraget is the owner of 80/20, one of Bangkok’s hottest restaurants, where he reinterprets local seasonal produce to create a contemporary take on Thai cuisine. The restaurant’s name reflects the fact that at least 80 percent of the produce it serves is locally grown, but these days that figure is closer to 100 percent.
Here, the Canada-trained chef describes his work in his own words.
When we opened 80/20, there were a lot of challenges, including having to explain the kind of food we wanted to serve. But we managed to expand our working space and do something I’ve always wanted to do—offer tasting menus. We aim to ensure our guests are well acquainted with local or indigenous ingredients. It is also our mission to elevate Thai cuisine to become one of the best in the world with innovative processes and modern techniques.
Our restaurant acts as a platform for guests to become better acquainted with local and indigenous ingredients. In fact, eventually I want to relocate somewhere closer to the source of the ingredients we use, especially the south of the country, to further explore regional Thai cuisines and ingredients. I often experiment with the foods I create by using my own interpretations based on the different aspects of the experiences I’ve gathered. I want my food to be referred to as modern Thai cuisine.
It is never too late to start doing what you love, no matter how difficult it may seem or how far off your goals may be. Dream big and go for it.
My passion for food aside, I’m also a big fan of MMA, Muay Thai and basketball. I used to follow many sports until the restaurant became so busy I lost touch. Now I think it’s time I get back into it. I’m also something of a bookworm and a particular book that I can’t seem to get over—I return to it again and again—is Kitchen Confidential by the late Anthony Bourdain. I think it is important to find harmony between work and life, and reading helps me to switch off after a long day in the kitchen.
See also: What Matters To Me: Pichaya Utharntharm, Chef
Being a member of the Gen.T community is an honour. I hope to learn from and be inspired by my fellow honourees. They are individuals who are all devoted to noble causes and passionate about what they do. Of course, I also hope that my story can be a lesson for young, aspiring chefs who are about to embark on their culinary journeys. I would add that it is never too late to start doing what you love, no matter how difficult it may seem or how far off your goals may be. Dream big and go for it.
See other honourees from the Food & Beverage category of the Gen.T 2019 List.