After nearly two decades, David Thompson is leaving Nahm, the restaurant he founded with Como Hotels. Thompson is one of the best-known and best-regarded Australian chefs on the international fine-dining scene, and it was Nahm that brought him acclaim outside Australia. He first opened a restaurant under the Nahm banner in London 18 years ago, shortly after he closed Darley Street Thai, the Sydney dining landmark that first made his name. He won the first ever Michelin star awarded to a Thai restaurant at the Belgravia eatery, and then went on to open a flagship Nahm in Bangkok in 2010, closing the London restaurant at the end of 2012.
Celebrated for its exploration of royal Thai cuisine, Nahm Bangkok has been a fixture of the World's 50 Best Restaurants. It was awarded a star in Michelin's inaugural Bangkok guide, topped Asia's 50 Best list in 2014, and Thompson was recognised with a lifetime achievement award in 2016. Meanwhile, he opened a string of street food restaurants under the Long Chim brand, kicking off with Singapore before extending to Perth, Sydney and Melbourne.
"For me, the most rewarding aspect is that Nahm has been a happy restaurant," Thompson says. "Even as Nahm's reputation grew, refined its service and succeeded as a business, the restaurant always retained its sense of sanuk, the pleasure in looking after customers. The application of culinary integrity in the kitchen was never to the cost of the joy in doing what we all loved. This is what I will always remember. It is a rare restaurant that can achieve all of this."
Nahm's new chef will be Pim Techamuanvivit, a California-based Bangkok native who first made a splash on the international food scene with her blog, Chez Pim, which launched in 2003. (A brutal early Chez Pim review of Nahm in London, published in 2003 and since taken offline, slammed it for offering value that was "practically highway robbery", describing one of the dishes as "pasty, tough, and tasteless crap" and another as a "shapeless pile of pus".) Techamuanvivit opened a restaurant of her own, Kin Khao, in San Francisco in 2014, which went on to win a Michelin star the following year.
Sources close to Thompson say that he will still call Bangkok home, and is by no means retiring from its restaurant scene. "He's not walking away from restaurants, he's doubling down and going to do something bigger still."
The final service of Nahm with David Thompson in the kitchen will be Monday 30 April.