Bangkok wok queen ‘Jay Fai’ named ‘Icon’ by ‘Asia’s 50 Best’

A file image of Supinya “Jay Fai” Junsuta from an episode of Netflix’s ‘Street Food Asia.’
A file image of Supinya “Jay Fai” Junsuta from an episode of Netflix’s ‘Street Food Asia.’

Bangkok’s fiercest street-cooking granny, recognized globally thanks to a little French book, picked up another distinction yesterday with the Icon award by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.

The people behind the annual rankings announced that legendary Bangkok chef Supinya Junsuta, best known Jay Fai, won the award meant to honor culinary icons who have made “an outstanding contribution to the restaurant industry.

“Jay Fai embodies the spirit of Asian gastronomy. Her unwavering dedication to her craft has earned her the respect of her peers and makes her a worthy recipient of this year’s Icon Award,” said William Drew, director of content for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Long before she became Michelin Guide- and Netflix-famous, her rise began over 50 years ago in the 1980s.

Her menu originally consisted of family recipes passed on from her mother, who, according to Jay Fai, once told her she could never make it as a real cook.

With a drive to creating new recipes and prove her mother wrong, she soon developed her own unique style and shifted her focus to seafood and sourcing only top-quality ingredients, which led to higher prices than found at other street food stalls. What has arguably set her apart from the rest is the fact she is the only cook, holding court over a fiery wok every night in her signature black goggles and beanie.

Jay Fai is no stranger to the limelight. Since her restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2017, she has become an international superstar, creating dishes for first-class Thai Airways passengers and traveling to Copenhagen to cook her signature crab omelet for the world’s gastronati. She also starred in the popular Netflix series Street Food: Asia from the creators of Chef’s Table.

Praise has poured in from across the world, as well as from Bangkok’s top culinary figures, like Le Du’s chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn. 

“True icon of the chefs,” Chef Ton wrote. “No one on this planet earth deserves this title more than Jayfai. And if anyone wanna argue with me, name me some names who cook every single dishes (i mean everything) no second hands, second chefs whatsoever. Just her cooking with the flame. She has done this for more than 40 years.”

 

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A post shared by ThiTid Tassanakajohn (@cheftonn)


This story originally appeared in BK.

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