Gastronomy News Chef

Meet Chudaree “Tam” Debhakam, the First Thai Chef in History to Earn Two Michelin Stars

Chiara Marando
copertina Chef Chudaree Tam Debhakam

Awarded two Michelin stars and the Michelin Guide Young Chef Award 2024, Chudaree “Tam” Debhakam is the first Thai chef to lead a starred restaurant. Her cooking is a celebration of her homeland, with a focus on sustainability and locally sourced ingredients, which she selects herself.

The character

"I don't know what to say except that I'm grateful for these recognitions. This past year, I've worked intensely and stayed completely focused on the goals I knew I wanted to achieve—not for the sake of winning awards, but because I believe in what I see as my mission. It takes a lot of energy and dedication." These were the words of young Chef Chudaree "Tam" Debhakam, owner of the Baan Tepa restaurant in Bangkok, when she was awarded the MICHELIN Guide Young Chef Award 2024 and two Michelin stars at the most recent Michelin awards ceremony. This made her the first Thai chef in the world to lead a starred restaurant (as reported by the guide's website in a special feature dedicated to her).

Chef Chudaree Tam Debhakam 2

At 31, she's known for her talent, consistency, and discipline—qualities that have helped her grow and gain recognition, becoming an important reference point in the world of fine dining, not only in Thailand but internationally. Her approach has always been assertive and focused on perfecting her culinary offerings, making them uniquely personal while also advancing sustainability initiatives and building strong ties with local farmers. "I've always wanted to engage more with nearby farming communities, supporting Thai ingredients and producers, and creating something lasting that also deepens our understanding of the raw materials our land offers. For me, it's a profound love for the roots and heritage I come from." This is where the idea of a cuisine designed to fully reflect an identity comes from, adapting to the changes that Chudaree "Tam" Debhakam feels she's going through—changes that are part of her and her growth journey.

Chef Chudaree Tam Debhakam

"My role models are people who strive for excellence. They do this work because they love it. I feed off that energy and want to give you that same energy." And the results and recognitions suggest that this energy is the right way to express herself—most notably, the two new shining Michelin stars. "There's no doubt that this is motivation to keep going; it tells us we're on the right track and doing the right things. I'm already ready for the next step, for the coming year. I'm thinking about what I need to do to go even further." What drives every choice are the feelings, sensations, and questions she continuously asks herself—questions about her kitchen team, the restaurant, the dishes she creates, and the relationships she builds while always striving to give her best.

baan tepa2

Indeed, the relationships she's talking about, the dialogue with farmers and producers, have transformed into an immersive learning experience: Baab Tepa On Tour. "We spend four days with different communities and, at the end, we cook dinner for everyone. Some of the knowledge and insights we share, I bring back to the restaurant, allowing customers to try dishes that reflect places, customs, traditions, and ingredients that can be hard to find. This is at the core of what we do at Baab Tepa."

Chef Chudaree Tam Debhakam MICHELIN Guide Thailand
@Guida Michelin Thailandia

To those entering the culinary world, Chudaree "Tam" Debhakam advises: "The life of a chef isn't for everyone. You have to be sure it's what you want. For example, I left university to work in the kitchen because I needed to be sure I wanted to become a chef. I believe every aspiring chef should experience the kitchen, feel the pressure, endure it, and overcome its challenges."

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