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A South African chef abroad tells us what it’s like to work in Phuket, Thailand

Who’d expect that one of Phuket’s best restaurants – Boathouse Wine & Grill – would have a lad from the Eastern Cape as its chef? Lisa van Aswegen catches the last rays of sun on Kata Beach to find out how Bryan Burger likes working in paradise.

How did you end up at this idyllic location?

After working in kitchens, doing various culinary courses and training in Ireland, I came to Asia. I was working in Taiwan, specialising in raw food, and always came to Thailand on holiday. I’ve been at Boathouse for almost three years now.

Boathouse Wine & Grill. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Boathouse Wine & Grill. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

What makes being a chef here so exciting?

Simply put: the variety. In Asia, people want to experience new things, so I have freedom to play. At Boathouse Wine & Grill we have a Thai and a classical French menu, while at Re Ká Ta Beach Club next door the emphasis is on raw, organic and healthy dishes. I have access to suppliers all around the world – it’s incredible!

Besides the location, what else inspires you?

I travel a lot regionally, to places such as Malaysia and Singapore. I always come back with new ideas.

A dish at The Boathouse. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

A dish at The Boathouse. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Boathouse is known for its wine cellar; in fact, it’s won the Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence every year since 2006. Tell us more.

We have over 800 wines from all over the world, including South Africa, and we suggest pairings with each dish. It’s also about storing wine correctly in this humid climate – it’s a challenge.

After nine years in Asia, do you miss South African food like biltong?

Not at all – I have my own biltong maker here! I use it for the raw bar at the Beach Club.

Prawns at The Boathouse. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Prawns at The Boathouse. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Discover more about Boathouse Wine & Grill and Re Ká Ta Beach Club on boathousephuket.com.

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