Thai Dinner For Two

Executive Chef James Babian at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai always goes the extra mile for making its guests comfortable. And so it was that our trip to this dream destination came to an end.

We had an extraordinary Thai dinner our last evening, prepared just for us by Executive Chef James Babian.  You’re probably wondering what was so special about this dinner. It all started when I asked for a Thai restaurant referral for my husband on the Big Island.

Next thing I knew, there was a message from the hotel’s Executive Chef James Babian, asking my husband’s favorite thai food and when my husband might want to enjoy a Thai dinner. (So, to General Manager, Robert Whitfield, a special thank you and so glad I directed my question to you!)

Chef Babian offered to make any Thai food we wanted. All he needed was  an hour’s notice – afterall, most of the ingredients, from the thai basil, to the lemongrass and chilis were grown in the herb garden on the hotel property.

So, after much anticipation for our dinner, we started off with tom yom soup. It was beyond delicious. Most thai food is salty, but this dinner was punctuated by fresh herbs, which seemingly exploded with every bite. By the way, when I shared this taste sensation with Chef Babian, he opined that in addition to using freshly picked herbs,  the water used for cooking was Evian. Imagine!

Next, the beef salad. The secret is always in the ingredients. I’m told the decision to use local, organic ingredients at the Four Seasons Hualalai is more expensive, but worth the difference. Over 160 local farms supply the resort’s restaurants, and most of the ingredients used for dinner were organic.

It’s a small world on the Big Island in Hawaii. Chef Babian’s baby daughter was delivered many years ago by the same doctor, now retired, that delivered the fresh lettuce, tomatoes and herbs for our dinner that morning.

Then we had my husband’s favorite – pad thai. This dish raised the bar for Thai restaurants forever. Finally, rice pudding with slices of fresh mango finished our meal. Coupled with the ambiant sound of surf crashing on the beach just feet away, my husband and I didn’t want the night to end.

So, until our next visit, we bade goodbye to Chef Babian and “Tic,”  the lovely lady who served our meal. Tic was born in Thailand and advised Chef Babian to guarantee our Thai meal was authentic. Thank you both for a great dinner – best thai food my husband and I have ever eaten. Above all else, thank you, Robert, for connecting us with Chef Babian, allowing us to satisfy our Thai food cravings at the hotel and the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai for another great trip in paradise.

And so, as I write on the plane returning to the mainland, and until our next visit,  I will remember Chef Babian’s secret to cooking – regional, seasonal and artisanal.

NOTES:

Chef Babian was kind enough to share his recipes with me. They will be featured this week. What a difference healthy ingredients makes to these dishes, so remember Chef Babian’s advice on ingredients.

 

Chef Babian has appeared many times on The Food Network, has been honored to cook  at the James Beard House in NYC and has won countless culinary awards.

– The Gourmet Review

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