MICHELIN-STARRED chef Supinya Junsuta, better known as Jay Fai, denied yesterday that she had already grown tired of her new celebrity status and had been tempted to return the award.
Supinya, the only Thai street-food chef to win a Michelin star, was responding to a media report of her alleged desire to return the star as she was tired of the attention and had not been given a choice about whether to help promote Thailand.
As she gave a lesson to three of the world’s top-10 tennis players yesterday, she rubbished the negative story. “I never thought of returning it. This award is the most important thing that has ever occurred in my life,” she insisted.
“Instead I should like to embrace it for as long as I can,” said the 72-year-old after she taught world No 1 Simona Halep of Romania, 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and world No 9 Johanna Konta of Great Britain how to make her famous rolled omelette with crab.
“It’s a great honour to help promote Thai food to the world. When I knew I would meet world-class tennis players, I could hardly wait for this,” said Jay Fai, who admitted she was a tennis fan and that former world No 1 Maria Sharapova was her favourite player.
Halep, Ostapenko and Konta, plus world No 4 Karolina Pliskova who arrived yesterday afternoon, are in Hua Hin for the Intercontinental World Tennis Championship this weekend.
Yesterday’s practice session was one of their most challenging, as they underwent a swift lesson from the demanding chef about how to cook an omelette on a traditional charcoal stove.
They might be super-competitive on a tennis court but the trio has clearly met their match in the culinary department. It was especially tough for two-time French Open finalist Halep, who admitted she barely spends any time in the kitchen.
The young Latvian Ostapenko, who took the world of tennis by storm when she triumphed at Roland Garros in May, seemed to enjoy getting tips on how to make the gourmet egg dish, which costs at least Bt800 per plate back at Jay Fai’s restaurant in Bangkok.
“I used to cook a lot of things when I was at home,” said the world No 7, who had already visited a night market and enjoyed Thai food at the beach resort.
However, it was Konta who was the most attentive among the three as the 2017 Wimbledon semi-finalist observed everything the cooking master said and did.
“It’s a memorable experience and my first time to have a cooking lesson with a Michelin-starred chef,” said the 26-year-old. It’s easy to see her move around but for me it’s complicated. I love cooking at home but I definitely don’t look like I can cook very well.”
The admiration was mutual. Jay Fai paid compliments to the three stars for their ability to pick up her tips quickly. “If they could only spend more time with me, they would be able to cook better,” she said.
Konta and Halep play at 6.30pm today, followed by the showdown between Ostapenko and the 2016 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova.
“This will be a great preparation for me before Brisbane [first week of January]. I finished my season a bit early so to get back and be able to compete again really makes me excited,” Konta said.