Pachara Thakerngkiat, Executive Chef & Director
Chef Pachara Thakerngkiat, known as Chef James, completed the Grand Diplôme® and the Art of Bakery programme at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit. He went on to gain experience as a chef de partie at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit for over 2 years, owned a bakery shop in Chiang Mai, and was the winning challenger of the Iron Chef, Thailand. Chef James is now executive chef and director of his own bakery shop, James Boulangerie, which opened in January 2020.
When did you realise you wanted to become an executive chef and director?
After I finished high school, I realised that I did not know what I was good at or what school I should go to. However, my parents know me so well so they advised me to try pastry school. The more I learnt, the more I loved baking so, it didn't take long to figure out that I should be a pastry chef.
What’s the best thing about being an executive chef and director?
Personally, it’s the opportunity to share my love of baking with someone. I’m so lucky to be able to serve great quality, tasty dishes and bakery items to my customers.
Professionally, the best thing in my career was going from being an amateur baker to a professional chef, and showing that I can bake for a living.
What are your main responsibilities? Talk us through your average working day…
As a chef my duties are to create delicious pastries for our customers to enjoy, ensure that all pastries are well made and presented, and ensure that all kitchen staff perform their duties, as well as training my team with the right skills.
As a business owner, I have to identify business opportunities, develop a strategic marketing plan and find the right partners.
Is there anything that surprised you when starting the role?
Unpredictable things can happen any time, like croissant dough not proofing while customers are waiting, flour running out of stock, etc. It made me anxious, but at the end of the day, I learnt from it.
How do you work with your team? Any management tips?
I believe a leader should commit not only to the business' success but also to training and educating the team to improve their skillset. Apart from assigning them to the task that is relevant to their skills, I'm always encouraging my team to learn new skills both from their peers and me.
How did studying the Grand Diplôme® and the Art of Bakery programme help you to achieve your current role?
At Le Cordon Bleu Dusit, all the chefs and staff are friendly and helpful. I really felt welcome every time I went to school. The chefs always explained every process in detail; repeating and highlighting special techniques until we clearly understood, allowing us to apply the techniques and use them at home or work. They also taught us to work as a team.
Do you still meet with Le Cordon Bleu Dusit graduates?
Of course, they are my friends for life. So we usually meet and exchange our techniques.
What has been the best moment in your career so far? What have been some challenges you’ve overcome in your role?
When I made my first successful croissant and it tasted delicious. I admit that the croissant was not my expertise, but I was determined to overcome this, so I kept practicing and testing the recipes. So, I would pretty much say that perseverance is the key to success for me.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?
If you decide to be a chef, you have to take it seriously and be tough-minded because this industry requires commitment. Additionally, keep practicing and try to seize any opportunity that comes your way.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My parents inspire me to succeed. My mother always manages all her work so perfectly and efficiently, while my father is a very hardworking and a well-rounded person. I think that these are essential life skills one should have. But, most importantly, they are my great supporters and created the person who I am today.
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