Forget the acclaimed Thai cookbooks, the lifetime achievement awards, and his reputation as one of Australia's best-known chefs on the international food scene. No, the award missing from chef David Thompson's trophy cabinet is the one that recognises him as the world's best tattoo-free chef.
"I was robbed," says Thompson, who was shortlisted in the category at this year's inaugural World Restaurant Awards. He was nominated alongside Clare Smyth and Alain Ducasse, with the latter clinching the title. "I suspected that Alain has tattoos underneath his eyebrows," he says. "If they have that award again, your prize should be having a tattoo done live on stage, so you never have a chance to win that award a second time."
Tattoos or not, there's no denying Thompson's vivaciousness and desire to keep his restaurants fresh. Last month, he travelled to his three Long Chim restaurants in Australia – in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne – to help launch the new menu, but denies the suggestion that they're inspired by his travels through Bangkok. "I changed the menu because I got bored," he says. "We've changed the Sydney menu several times since we've opened."
His favourite dishes on the menu are the most humble ones – the stir-fry of rice noodles, prawns and garlic chives; and another with rice noodles, egg, soy sauce and gai lan – and warns about the spicy chicken larb fritters. "Sometimes if the chefs spy diners daring each other to eat it as a competition, they might actually up the chilli," he says.
Long Chim Melbourne: Crown Melbourne, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank, Vic, (03) 9292 5777, longchimmelb.com
Long Chim Perth: State Buildings, basement level, cnr St Georges Tce and Barrack St, Perth, WA, (08) 6168 7775, longchimperth.com
Long Chim Sydney: cnr Pitt St and Angel Pl, Sydney, NSW (02) 9223 7999, longchimsydney.com