Thursday, May 25, 2017

Follow the Chef: David Okamoto, The David of David's no longer at David's

I love to blog about food, but it is hard for me to write unless I am extremely compelled to. That said, I have to admit that a few eateries have gotten very very near to impressing me sufficiently, one of is David's Bakery. I love their soft-baked cookies to bits, especially the ones with runny centres and the maple bacon cookie, but I stopped short of writing a full review because I can't get over the fact that at the end of every session at David's, I just fall into an uncontrollable sugar high, and I don't know whether that's a good thing.

And this is also why I feel the need to write this piece when David approached me. Yes, the David of David's Bakery. Oh, just so you know, since the end of February 2017, David left David's. Yes, David's not at David's anymore, so before I confuse you further with my language, let us turn our eyes back at David Okamoto, as this is about him, and not about David's (I really have to stop this!).

David Okamoto was born in Japan (his mum's Japanese, while his Dad's American) but grew up in Hawaii, which, in his own words, is a food paradise, where you can find any kind of food you want on the island. Having been blessed with a natural flair for baking since young, this interesting varied food culture in Hawaii, plus his short stints at Kimuraya Bakery and Restaurant Kona made David an inventive and fearless baker.

However, his first job out of college was not in the food industry. He joined Rolex, who thankfully sent him to Thailand for work, and the rest, as they often say it, is history. Like myself, he fell in love with Thailand and decided to stay for good. He started off with a shaved-ice dessert bar named Snow Factory in 2011, which was probably a little too early for a premium Kakigori to take off in Thailand, considering how After You made a success out of theirs only in the last couple of years. His first venture had to end in 2012, but through the experience, he noticed his brownies selling out everyday and confirmed that baked goods would be his next step.

Through a trial and error process exhausting nearly 100 iterations of his soft-baked cookie recipe, David unleashed David's Bakery in 2014 and quickly achieved success, as his cookies are simply excellent. Personally, David's cookies are the only ones I have eaten that can be on par with the world-famous Ben's Cookies from the UK. They are awfully sweet though, and David agrees with me on this. His hands are somewhat tied, as locals really love their desserts and drinks ridiculously-sweet.

David's cookies not only taste but look world class. Photo Credit: David Okamoto
Without delving into the reasons as to why David left, it's time to look forward. Being on his own now, he has even more freedom to create and conquer. He's happily married in Nakhon Panom to a beautiful Thai lady, and is in the process of setting up his own factory, which in itself sounds like an extremely exciting project. He plans to create a completely different cookie plus an entire array of other goodies (brownies, dough, sauces etc.)  for mass production for the regional B2B market. That is to say, though David will be back doing what he does best in no time, it does not seem like it will be very straightforward for us to identify his products anytime soon.

I always feel that if you focus on what you do with unwavering passion, it is impossible to keep you down for long. David is certainly on his way back up with a vengeance, as he's sticking to what he does best. For the moment, if you would like to know what he's up to, do follow his new IG account where he plans to not only post his updates but also share cooking tips and recipes (great for home-cooks like myself).



I will also make it a point to keep you guys updated on his latest milestones on this very space. Since we are on milestones, I would like to congratulate David for his promotion from chef/baker to Daddy! Welcome to the club! Enjoy the ride man, life will never be the same again.

PS. David's Bakery remains one of my favourite bakeries in Bangkok and do get your hands on their soft-baked cookies if you want to know what I am talking about. Hopefully they remain the same after David's departure.

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"Follow the Chef" is a new blog series where I sit down face to face with chefs and help them tell you what they want to say, in their perspective. My inspiration for this series stems from the fast-changing dining landscape in Bangkok, which is both exciting yet confusing for consumers like us. Do we follow the restaurants, or follow the chefs? I hope I can help you make a better decision.

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