James Bradbury is the Head of Global Culinary at the Minor Food Group– one of the leading casual dining industry players in Asia which manages a number of food outlets including Australian bistro chain The Coffee Club.
With an extensive experience in the food industry, James left Melbourne and moved to Bangkok 13 years ago to experience Asia and simultaneously bringing Asia the taste and food culture of Australia – with a twist of local flavour and spices.
James spoke to Advance and shared how he has used his international hospitality experience to fuel culinary inspiration in Bangkok.
What made you move to Bangkok?
I moved to Bangkok 13 years ago to experience Asia and learn as much as possible about different cultures and cuisine.
Interview by Tammy Lee, Marketing & Communications & Digital Manager, Advance.
Why did you choose Bangkok over other cities in Asia?
I secured a job with Minor International developing western food and menus for our brands based in Bangkok, Thailand. As the business expanded internationally so did my role and responsibilities within the group.
How receptive is population in Thailand when it comes to new dishes?
Thailand is a dynamic fast moving market and it has its own world renowned Thai cuisine which has been influenced by lots of cuisines from other parts of Asia and the west including Australia, America and Europe; Thailand is more receptive to new dishes than ever before. In Thailand we are privileged to enjoy a new wave of young Thai chefs returning home from overseas who are starting to recreate authentic Thai dishes with modern twist, it’s a vibrant food scene and very exciting time in the hospitality industry in Thailand.
What’s your favourite and least favourite Thai dish?
I’m really enjoying the spices of southern Thai cuisine at the moment, too many dishes to name, regional cuisine will be big in 2019. My least favorite Thai dishes are the one that include strange ingredients, ants, bugs, and strange parts; I’m slightly conservative when this style of cuisine.
What does your typical work day look like?
A normal week at the moment sees me working in Bangkok, Middle East, and Northern Asia, l have lots of projects at start up stage, which involves starting and growing Australia’s largest coffee chain with premium Australian ingredients, taking Australian brands global.
What’s the most challenging part when it comes to creating new dishes?
The most challenging part of my role is having time to turn great ideas into working products and services for our restaurants in Asia and Australia, as well as supporting our farmers and suppliers in Australia.
How has the hospitality sector in Thailand changed throughout the years since you first arrived?
The hospitality sector in Thailand is resilient; we get lots of setbacks and distractions that effect tourism, however Thai people are strong and passionate, enabling the sector to grow and diversify. The restaurants sector has lots of independent operators which increases competition, along with the introduction of the Michelin Guide, making for constant change and evolution.
What do you miss most about Australia?
I’m fortunate to travel to Australia frequently so l don’t get home sick, however l do miss the open space, clean air, great beaches, and the lack of people!