11 Sep Honeycombers : FREEBIRD BANGKOK: WE INTERVIEW THE TEAM
If you’re looking for where to eat in Bangkok, Thailand, this new restaurant run by alumni from Prime Society, Tippling Club and Sarnies should be your pick
What do you get when four culinary (and design) superstars come together with a common vision? The short answer is Freebird – Bangkok’s newest dining concept that brings together freshly brewed coffee, perfectly crafted tipples and modern Australian cuisine together in a lush garden retreat. We interview Dallas Cuddy (Executive Chef, previously from Prime Society), Marcus Boyle (General Manager, previously from Tippling Club), Ben Lee (Founder) and Alan Barr (Architect and Designer) [both from Sarnies], and find out a little more about what this culinary dream team has in store for the food scene in Bangkok.
Congrats on this new venture of yours! Can you enlighten us on the vision behind Freebird?
Freebird is the realisation of a dream to create something cutting-edge for the restaurant industry in Southeast Asia. At Freebird ,you can go for a chilled-out brunch, a special dinner at the chef’s table, taste wine in our wine cellar, have a BBQ in the garden, or pick up a coffee from the outdoor pop-up coffee shop where the crew from A Stimulant by Sarnies roast coffee on-site. We needed to assemble a “dream team” to get all this done, and so, we’ve done just that.
You guys seem like Singapore’s own rat pack in the culinary scene. How did the four of you originally meet? And what do you respect about one another?
It’s a very long story, but the short version of it is that Alan was stalking Ben at Sarnies to see if any of his expansion plans could involve Greymatters (a brand spanking new ID firm at the time). Ben could see the epic design talent and hired Alan to design his second project, The Lokal, and that relationship blossomed. Meanwhile, Alan was busy also designing Tippling Club and through that, met Marcus. Fast forward to a year ago when the Bangkok idea was first floated, and we went on the hunt for the most talented chef we could find to spearhead the kitchen, and that is where Dallas enters the story.
Thanks for the summary! What sparked the idea and concept behind Freebird?
Originally, it was going to be a café in Bangkok, but when the first space we had earmarked for this project fell through, we went on the prowl for another spot. Enter the current space on Sukhumvit Soi 47: a house complete with a secluded garden that has morphed into so much more. The result was Freebird.
So what’s in a name? We bet there’s a story behind Freebird.
The name “Freebird” was inspired by the story of the caretaker of the property who has lived on the land for the past 27 years, and as a hobby, has been taking care of local birds that live in the garden and around the area. His story is such a cool part of the life of the property. It only seemed natural to fully embrace it. He is our Birdman, and the birds are his Freebirds.
“Freebird” really encapsulates all we are trying to deliver with this project – enjoying good food and wine in a space that celebrates local community and nature. For us, the restaurant is also about the freedom to do whatever we wanted, and that is something that will constantly evolve, resulting in a different experience on each visit.
We get pretty bummed when we see interesting new restaurants pop up only to disappear months later. Any insider advice you’d like to offer to newbies in this industry?
Don’t do it! Just kidding. Just don’t bet the farm on it, as there will be a lot of expensive lessons to be had. Like any business, it’s brutally competitive, but glorious when it works. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
Design-wise, what can we expect from Freebird Bangkok? Cosy and laid-back? Vibrant and energetic?
All of the above and more! Vibrant and energetic describes the kitchen and bar area that leads into a three-sectioned dining room ,each with its own unique atmosphere. If you want up-close-and-personal with the action of the kitchen, request for the chef’s table. Or for something more cosy and laid-back, head upstairs to the private dining area. There’s also outdoor seating in the garden that is perfect for sunset drinks.
We’re obviously excited about the food. Can you give us a low-down of the dishes you’re most excited about serving up?
The food is best described as Contemporary Australian, and is inspired by global travels and Chef Dallas’s extensive career in Michelin starred kitchens all over the world. The menu is designed to highlight the amazing local produce available in Thailand, while appealing to the Thai dining sensibility, which is based on shared-style eating. There are no signature dishes but more of a signature style which is based on taste, temperature and texture.
Some sample dishes are grilled duck hearts with fermented blueberries and kohlrabi; steamed squid and clams with grapefruit and mustard oil; raw beef with stracciatella,salted plum and black grape; pork jowl with cherry, green olive and fennel; roast whole snapper with dill, lemon and caramelised yoghurt; and for dessert, coconut and lime posset with honeydew melon and elderflower.
We like our tipples too! Have you got any special boozy bevies you’d like to recommend?
Our cocktail program is the work of Liam Baer who has cut his teeth at some of the best bars in the world, including Richardson in Brooklyn, Apotheke in Manhattan and The Pawn in Hong Kong. Drinks will be focused on classic styles and techniques while utilising local produce.
Our wine list highlights the great offerings from Australia with ‘Classic Australian wines’ along with a ‘New Wave Australia’ section celebrating smaller producers. The wine list will be categorised by style from “Flinty and Mineral”, “Opulent and Structured” to “Natural and Skin Contact”. Marcus knows his stuff, and there is nothing like this list in Bangkok.
You could’ve picked anywhere else in Southeast Asia… so why Bangkok??
Bangkok is exploding right now for F&B, and with the recent Asia Top 50 awards being held here, it only reinforces its standing as a food destination in the region. Bangkok is such a diverse city with massive potential and Thais love eating, so it really was a natural fit for us.
What is your absolute proudest achievement, prior to starting up Freebird Bangkok?
Putting the Freebird team together, which we think is one of the finest hospitality crews ever assembled in Asia. Our kitchen and front-of-house team comes from exceptional backgrounds here in Bangkok, with experience from Nahm, Joel Robuchon, Vesper Bar, Signature @ Ku De Ta and Pollen in Singapore.
Finally, the four of you are essentially a culinary supergroup. If you guys were to form a superhero team like The Avengers, who would be who in that team?
What a question! Alan is Captain America because he’s from there and is always trying to do good. Dallas turns into the Hulk when food isn’t up to his high standards! Marcus is Hawkeye for his focus and attention to detail. Ben dreams to be Thor… the Chris Hemsworth version.
Read more at thehoneycombers.com