Skip to content

Pichaya “Pam” Soontornyanakij Takes Asia’s Best Female Chef 2024 Title

The multi-award-winning chef and owner of acclaimed Bangkok venue Potong will be honored at the live awards ceremony in Seoul in March.

Pitchaya “Pam” Soontornyanakij has become one of Thailand’s most recognizable culinary figures in recent years.

And the profile of the Bangkok-based personality is about to rise even higher after she was bestowed the Asia’s Best Female Chef Award for 2024.

A Le Cordon Bleu graduate and former chef at three-Michelin starred Jean-Georges in New York, Chef Pam is a judge on Top Chef Thailand and has her cooking show. She is also renowned for her private dining venture, The Table by Chef Pam.

But it is Potong — a labor of love in the heart of Chinatown — that has nudged her star even further into the stratosphere. At Potong, she mines inspiration that has been with her since early childhood.

“All Thais know about Thai-Chinese food,” says Chef Pam. “Some of the most famous street food in the country — like pad Thai and khao man gai (Hainanese-style chicken rice) — has Chinese origins. I grew up eating these dishes, and I love them as much as anyone. What I want to do at Potong is to use my experience as a professional chef to elevate the cuisine.”

She has certainly achieved her goal at the restaurant which was voted No.35 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 and has earned a single Michelin Star. And her success has been recognized by the 318 members of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy who have acknowledged her contribution to Thailand’s culinary landscape with the prestigious Best Female Chef award. 

The coveted award provides an opportunity to celebrate women in gastronomy who persist in pushing the limits of excellence through their skills, expertise, and artistry.

Chef Pam will be honored at the live awards ceremony to be held in Seoul on 26 March 2024.

“Chef Pam has been serving up some truly innovative cuisine from her fine dining establishment in an iconic multi-floor heritage building,” says William Drew, Director of Content for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. “Her 20-course tasting menu is a masterclass in paying heed to heritage as well as in cultural storytelling.

“For her inspirational gastronomy and her commanding presence on Thailand’s culinary scene — which includes everything from television appearances to empowerment programs — Pam is truly deserving of the honour.”

Potong, which translates as ‘simple’, offers a culinary reflection of Chef Pam’s Thai-Chinese heritage and is a nod to her family’s Chinese herbal medicines business. Housed in the ancestral building that served as a traditional Chinese medicine pharmacy, Potong blends tradition with avant-garde culinary techniques, offering 20 inspiring dishes in a tasting menu that embodies her 5-element philosophy of ‘Salt, Acid, Spice, Texture, and Maillard Reaction’.

Chef Pam’s commitment to empowering female chefs is evident in her pivotal role with Gastronauts Asia and Women in Gastronomy (WIG). She recently started her scholarship program called WFW (Women for Women) together with the American Women’s Club of Thailand, a non-profit organization, to support female students in rural areas of Thailand to achieve their dream of becoming chefs.

“I’m deeply honored,” says Chef Pam. “This award goes beyond personal achievement — it celebrates my beliefs, respect for heritage, and a relentless pursuit to better myself.

“May this accolade inspire young female chefs to break barriers and ignite grand culinary dreams. I believe that with passion and dedication, anyone can carve their path to success.

“I am grateful to 50 Best for this recognition — it’s not just mine, but a triumph for every aspiring chef worldwide.”