It always starts with an idea, in this case, an idea for a restaurant. Sometimes, not often, that idea becomes a reality. But what’s less common is when a restaurant becomes an idea in itself.
In the case of Bampot Kitchen & Bar the idea was simple – to provide Phuket with a relaxed, urban-style space for both locals and tourists to enjoy great food, wine and drinks. And now, three years on, Bampot has become more than the sum of its parts.
Because Bampot is not just chef Jamie Wakeford’s simple yet refined food served from an open kitchen, nor is it the stylish interior, it’s not even the friends you’re bound to make and keep meeting there. It’s the combination of all those elements. It’s the idea of having a good time over good food and in good company that makes Bampot a restaurant where you don’t simply come to have a meal but to hang out.
Well, the thing about certain ideas is that if someone new gets it, they can run with it. They, because there are two of them – Max Cameron and Freddy Warne, Bampot’s new Restaurant Manager and Head Chef. They have taken Bampot on precisely because they get the idea – while Jamie is busy transplanting it to Bangkok.
Both Freddy and Max are English and both have plenty of experience in independent restaurants. Chef Freddy arrived in Phuket four months ago after a year working under chef Shinida Naeda in Hokkaido. His experience in Japan and top kitchens in Australia, New Zealand and the UK herald the arrival of fresh ideas for Bampot’s menu. Nonetheless, his grounding in French culinary traditions, which he marries to a modern approach (qualities he shares with Jamie), guarantee that Bampot’s returning guest will feel right at home.
Max, on the other hand, is a restaurant manager with experience way beyond his age, including a year in Provence where he ran the dining room at the Chateau de Mazan. In his spare time, Max was winemaking and truffle-hunting with his French father-in-law. An experience that connected him to the hands-on tradition that underpins the food and drink he has worked with since setting out in the restaurant business.
But there’s more. While they arrived in Phuket from the opposite sides of the globe, Freddy and Max are, in fact, old friends. They met and worked together at Lake Road Kitchen, a small gastronomic restaurant in England’s picturesque Lake District, owned and run by chef James Cross (who, notably, spent two years as a chef at the famed Noma in Copenhagen). In their time there, they were instrumental in its climb into the top 15 best restaurants in the UK and in the process, developed a passion for fine dining and a shared idea of what a restaurant should be.
It so happened that this idea already existed – in Phuket, in the form of Bampot. An idea of a fun, relaxed space, with ingenious cocktails at the bar, high quality, tasty dishes on the menu and a stream of new and returning customers flowing in through the door. It’s an idea they thought worth travelling from halfway across the world for, worth betting on and pushing forward. Because it always starts with an idea. And sometimes it’s a good one.
Photography by Adriano Trapani
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