Thierry Drapeau: The Culinary Journey
Thierry Drapeau, the most exciting addition to the line-up of Michelin star chefs in Bangkok, is the Executive Chef of The Signature Bangkok restaurant, where he offers a fresh twist on modern French in a relaxed, ambient setting.
Before entering the Bangkok Michelin restaurant scene, Chef Thierry perfected his craft in France’s finest Michelin kitchen, including championing an intriguing ‘cuisine of the soil’ philosophy at his 2-Michelin star restaurant Les Chabettoir in Saint-Sulpice-le-Verdon in the Loire Valley.
Chef Thierry was born in Nantes, a provincial city on the banks of the Loire River in northeastern France. Nantes enjoys close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and is surrounded by the famed vineyards and rich, agricultural fields of the Loire Valley. Nantes locals, like most of France, relish the ritual of the Sunday family meal, and the Drapeau family was no different.
On Sundays, young Thierry Drapeau accompanied his father to the local market to buy fresh meats, fish, vegetables, herbs and artisanal cheeses and wines directly from the makers. In the kitchen, the elder Drapeau cooked enthusiastically, employing traditional slow cooking methods that are the cornerstone of French home cooking. Finally, the family gathered around the table, beginning with an aperitif and moving on to a slow, relaxed meal together.
Chef Thierry Drapeau learned the best meals begin with fresh ingredients sourced directly from the garden, from farmers, artisan makers and local purveyors. In fact, he often credits his passion for refined, relaxed, ingredient-driven style to the times he spent in the kitchen with his father.
Drawn to the art of cooking at an early age, Chef Thierry Drapeau sought out France’s best Michelin star kitchens to hone skills and rose quickly through the culinary ranks. He apprenticed at Le Central in Guilvinec, subsequently moving on to the 1-Michelin Star Le Manoir de la Comète in Saint-Sébastien sur Loire. By the age of 21, Chef Thierry was appointed Chef de Partie at the 2-Michelin Star Le Bateau Ivre in Le Bourget du Lac Courchevel, later moving second in command at acclaimed Chef Jean-Pierre’s next Michelin opening.
Following a stint in another Michelin-star kitchen in Aix-en-Provence, Chef Thierry returned to the Loire Valley to open Auberge Robinson, his first kitchen which was classified a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide. In 2001, at the age of 35, he was included in Gilles Tournadre and Gilles Marre de Cohors’ exclusive Young Restaurateurs d’Europe.
With the opening of his second and most acclaimed restaurant, La Chabotterie in Saint-Sulpice-le-Verdon in the Loire Valley, Chef Thierry catapulted to fame, acquiring a coveted 2-Michelin Star within a few years. At La Chabotterie, Chef Thierry’s presented what he calls “cuisine of the soil,” an approach-cum-philosophy grounded in sourcing the finest local ingredients, expressing terroir, or a sense of place, and delivering light, lively and highly concentrated flavours.
A few years ago, Chef Thierry was drawn to Asia, particularly to Bangkok’s dynamic cuisine. Bangkok Michelin restaurants have garnered tremendous attention in the past year. Michelin star chefs in Bangkok often attest to the city’s experimental vibe and the availability of farm-fresh, local produce and exquisite ingredients imported from the world’s finest purveyors. This allows Michelin star chefs in Bangkok to exercise tremendous creativity and innovation. In 2019, Michelin Guides took note and classified the first wave of Bangkok Michelin restaurants, instantly making Bangkok Asia’s top culinary destination.
Today, Chef Thierry leads The Signature Bangkok restaurant, a worthy contribution to the Bangkok Michelin Star restaurant scene. The Signature Bangkok restaurant’s menu is grounded in Chef Thierry’s trademark “cuisine of the soil” and features Thailand’s bounty of edible flowers and herbs. In addition to expressing terroir and sourcing only the best ingredients of land and sea, Chef Thierry uses a jus-based style to draw out highly concentrated flavours. Chef Thierry approaches his cuisine much like a vigneron, or winemaker, approaches wine: each is crafted to achieve a balance of acidity, bitterness and sweetness and complemented by herbaceous and floral notes.
Arriving at The Signature Bangkok on the 11th floor of 5-star VIE Hotel Bangkok, diners are welcomed with an aperitif in an ambient lounge overlooking the city’s gorgeous skyline. A choice of 3- or 5-course meal, with wine pairings and vegan options, is served in the main dining room. The courses are composed much like a symphony, wherein classic French culinary techniques and edible floral elements harmonise seamlessly. The Signature Bangkok experience is intended to unfold at a relaxed, atmospheric pace and capture the true spirit of French dining, much like Chef Thierry Sunday family meals.
Light, lively, and presented with subtle theatrical flourish, the menu may well induct Chef Thierry as the next Michelin star chef in Bangkok.