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Phanganist Hostel's New Chef Ben - Great Cuisine at Hostel Prices

26 Feb 2017

Here at Phanganist we always try to bring you special treats and that includes what we’re doing at our very own Phanganist Hostel. This time it’s to do with food, you know we like our food and so we’d like to introduce our new chef Ben...

Ben is in the process of travelling the world along with his friend, they left their home country of France at the beginning of October and cycled from there to India which took almost three and a half months.

The route has taken them from France to Istanbul where they took a flight to Mumbai then on to Bangalore in India.

“We planned to come to Thailand as we have friends who have lived in Bangkok for 10 years and so we stayed in Bangkok for one month but it’s a big city and we don’t like city life.

We heard about Full Moon and this island and said let's go!”

How did you end up at Phanganist Hostel?
Because of the feeling I got, Sharon is very chilled and cool. We talked by mail with him first and after a few mails he told us to come visit, so we came, talked, had coffee and a nice chat. Sharon was very nice and there’s a good mood in the hostel so here we are!

What got you interested in food?
It’s a family tradition, both my Grandfather and Father are chefs. Since I was young I have been surrounded by cooks.

How did you learn to cook?
I learnt with my Father as he is a executive chef and then after I went to study 4 years at cookery school.

I have now been working for 11 years in different kinds of restaurants from small family restaurants to 5 star hotels and have even cooked for children in school.

What’s your style and what do you enjoy with cooking?
My style I can explain as what Apple do with the iphone, in French we say ‘epure’ which is simple and beautiful. I like a mix of flavours and enjoy to cook with chicken and vegetables. Vegetables especially because with veg you can cook them in different ways; you can steam them, roast them and use them as decoration and create different things on the plate.  

What have you added on the Phanganist Restaurant menu?
French snacks like croque monsieur and also bruschetta which is an Italian recipe as I am half Italian half Vietnamese.

My chef’s dish is pork done French style with a sauce made from the pork juices mixed with butter and herbs such as garlic, rosemary and parsley.

Another is my chicken dish, a lot of my friends like this dish and they say it’s my signature, I say that I like all food but friends think that I do have a certain way and this chicken has become known as my speciality, my signature. I use minced chicken and form a ball with cheese inside and an outside crust which is all totally homemade. For Phanganist I have changed it slightly and will use the whole chicken fillet with a piece of cheddar cheese in the middle of the folded chicken.

What have you had to consider catering for a hostel menu?
The price, and the challenge is that here is not a traditional restaurant. The risk is that we don’t really know what backpackers will want to eat, so we offer them tasty and affordable food on a menu which is similar to a good restaurant but for a low budget.

Also we are on an island so there’s not as many vegetables or produce so we have to cook with what we have.

We have checked the area and wanted to cook something that other places don’t have, what we offer is not so common in other hostels.

Why does the French style of food work here?
Because it’s French, it’s the best!

Do you like Thai food?
It’s very good because they have a lot of flavours and different things in one meal. They have different aspects like steamed noodles, chicken that is roasted and veg  cooked in a pan all in one dish. I love spicy also so it’s good for me.

What do you enjoy here in your free time?
It’s better you not know, ha-ha!

Why should people come and try the food at Phanganist Hostel?
Cooking is like music, if you give a great instrument to a random musician he will not make good music but if you give a bad instrument to a great musician then they will create something wonderful still and food is the same.

You can give quality products to a bad cook and they won’t be able to do anything but you give me some random casual products and I can make it great.

If want cheap and tasteless then go to Seveneleven but for a similar price you can get great tasty food, you should come to try our French cook cuisine.