Bangkok's Renowned Chef Makes History:
The Inspiring Journey of Chef Ton Tassanakajohn

By Maria Muller | April 12, 2023

Bangkok’s very own Chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn has made history by securing first and third place for two of his restaurants on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list 2023. His restaurant Le Du took the top spot, while Nusara followed closely in third place. So, who is this young chef, and how did his career skyrocket to such great heights?

Born into a Thai Chinese family, Chef Ton’s grandfather fled the Chinese communist revolution and arrived in Thailand with nothing but the clothes on his back. In Asian culture, family is highly valued, and pursuing a degree in finance is often encouraged. But Chef Ton’s fate took a different turn when he worked in a casino restaurant kitchen during a summer holiday in the US.

“It was my first job in a real kitchen. It was an Italian restaurant, making pizza. I did it for three to four months. Maybe it was destiny. I realized I loved the energy of being in the kitchen,” Chef Ton reminisced.

After working as an investment banker for a month, Ton realized his true passion lied elsewhere. The former banker’s love affair with contemporary Thai cuisine defied family expectations and cultural norms. Although initially met with disapproval from his family, his mother eventually supported his decision and funded his culinary dream.

To appease his family, Chef Ton first obtained an MBA in Hospitality from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. He then pursued training at the Culinary Institute of America and became a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers in NYC. While working in top NYC restaurants, Chef Ton credits Eleven Madison Park for his skills and development, stating that he “wouldn’t trade anything for that experience.”

Chef Ton at Le Du image from

Returning to Bangkok, Chef Ton opened Le Du, which means “season” in Thai. The innovative concept focused on using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients to create modern Thai recipes. Initially seen as a risky move, the approach eventually became a trend in Thai fine dining.

One of Chef Ton’s mentors, Chef David Thompson, assisted with media coverage and encouraged Ton to push boundaries. 

Le Du initially struggled, but things turned around when the editor of, Willy Thun, gave the restaurant a top rating on his popular website. This breakthrough attracted food enthusiasts, both local and international, and led to Le Du earning its first Michelin Star in 2019.

Since then, Chef Ton has established six more restaurants, including Nusara, which is named after his grandmother and serves traditional Thai recipes. His advice to aspiring chefs is to “never lie to yourself about your dreams. You must commit, study, and make sacrifices. Never give up, even if your family tells you that you can’t do it. Believe in yourself and follow your dreams.”

Chef Ton has made culinary history by securing the first and third spot for his restaurants, Le Du and Nusara, on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list 2023. Not only is he the first Thai chef to win this prestigious award, but his remarkable achievement is also a testament to his unwavering passion, dedication, and self-belief in pursuing his culinary dreams. Chef Ton’s innovative approach to modern Thai cuisine, using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, has earned worldwide recognition and has inspired aspiring chefs to follow their passion.

Watch his full interview by Gastrofilm and CreatorsLab after the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awarding below.

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