Couple behind top Thai restaurant hope their kids don't want to be chefs

Manekineko, one of Japan's most popular karaoke chains, has taken Singapore by storm since it opened here in 2015. At Tang Music Box, customers get to enjoy singing and can buy imported snacks and drinks from the KTV's mini-mart. Teo Heng KTV Studio,
Husband and wife chefs “Bo” Duangporn Songvisava and Dylan Jones, who own Bo.lan restaurant in Thailand say they fight about everything, but grew through the process. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

They may bicker while battling the heat in the kitchen but chef couple "Bo" Duangporn Songvisava, 37, and Chef Dylan Jones, 36, who founded thriving Thai restaurant Bo.lan in Bangkok, have the utmost respect for each other.

Their eight-year-old restaurant was ranked 19th in Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2017 .

"I'm surprised we're still together," jokes Jones.

"Yeah, we fight about everything, from the direction of the restaurant to the food. But we both grew through the process and realised we couldn't rely on anybody else," adds Bo.

The husband and wife are here to visit Singapore as Chef Ambassadors for the Chang Sensory Trails, a multi-sensory festival organised by Chang Beer.

It features Thai food from 12 local Thai restaurants, including Long Chim, Aroy Dee and Nara Thai, as well as interactive art and live music. The event is happening today and tomorrow at The Promontory.

The couple will collaborate with local Thai restaurants at the Chang Sensory Trails to come up with dishes that represent their favourite food memories.

They will also be personally serving up their own Thai dishes to lucky winners at the event's Chef's Table.

Chef Jones hails from Australia whereas chef Bo comes from Thailand. The affable couple met in 2005 in the kitchen of Nahm, a Thai restaurant in London, where Jones fell in love with Thai cooking - and with Bo.

Like any good kitchen drama series, Jones was one of the sous chefs while Bo was a chef de partie (section chef) under him.

"Dylan was the kindest. He saved my a** so many times in the kitchen," says Bo.

After the other kitchen staff found out that they were dating, he had to be stricter with her than necessary.

"I didn't want people to think I was playing favourites, so I probably over-compensated. But I turned her into the chef she is today," says Jones jokingly.

The couple then left London for Bangkok to open their own restaurant, Bo.lan, in 2009, before getting married in 2012.

The idea came from Bo, whose childhood dream was to open her own restaurant before turning 30 years old.

Jones, on the other hand, did not want to open his own business because his father owned a carpentry business and he knew how much work it was going to take.

"But I dragged him along anyway," says Bo, who is well-known for being feisty.

They now have two boys, two-year-old Daychathorn Ethan Jones and five-year-old Dtaychiit Keith Jones.

The elder boy who even has a dish named after him on Bo.lan kids' menu - Steamed Rice Dtaychiit Style, steamed rice with vegetables, grilled fish and egg.

Despite his age, Dtaychiit Keith is already teaching his dad the "right way" to cook.

"When I make things like pancakes and pasta, he'll be like,'Dad you're doing it wrong! Just trust me,' and try to teach me how to do it although I taught him first," recalls Jones, laughing.

In fact, after seeing how comfortable and confident Dtaychiit Keith was in the kitchen, the couple bought him his own kitchen knife - a Japanese-grade child's knife with sharp edges but a rounded tip - to learn how to cut vegetables when he was three years old.

When asked if their sons aspire to be chefs in the future, Jones immediately replies: "I hope not."

But both Bo and Jones came to a consensus that they would let their children be whatever they wanted to be, as long as they were happy.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2017, with the headline 'Battles in the kitchen bring chefs closer'. Print Edition | Subscribe