Penang pride: Pathma Bala leads a team of nearly 100 chefs at the five-star Dusit Thani in Pattaya, Thailand

Adding a touch of Malaysian flavour to Thai cuisine is executive chef, Pathma Bala at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Pattaya, Thailand.

Having been with the five-star property for more than two years, chef Pathma overseas a team of 95 cooks and chefs under him.

In fact, the Butterworth-born lad left Penang way back in 2001 for greener pastures in Fiji.

To date, Pathma has worked in Mongolia, Samoa, Maldives, Oman, Brunei, China, Abu Dhabi, Perth and Melbourne –in that order.

“The vast experience gained while working in all of these locations has actually helped me to be a better person in terms of work and also managing all kinds of people,” said Pathma.

He had his humble beginnings as a trainee commis cook (junior chef) at the Ferringhi Beach Resort in Penang some 20 years ago.

Moving up the ranks also helped him to work in different countries as he also liked to travel and see new places and experience different cultures. 

“I was actually influenced to get involved in the profession because my elder brother was a chef. Maybe his influence made me take up the profession but I do not have regrets in what I am doing.

“As a chef, I do not have any personal preference for any dish because all of the food I cook is expected to be special although I frequently enjoy Caesar salad and burger,” said Pathma with a grin.

He also explained that after leaving his hometown for so many years, he does not miss his hometown much although he makes it a point to visit his family and friends every year.

He actually comes from a large family of five with his only brother still residing in Butterworth.

While in Thailand, he has picked up making papaya salad or som tham, fried noodles or pad thai, crispy catfish salad, mango salsa and several varieties of Thai curries.

“In my free time, I like to go jogging or playing football. Sometimes I watch YouTube and occasionally I like to explore new places in the cities I work in.

“You will be surprised the things you might discover by just walking around the city which people tend to overlook if they travel by taxi or bus.

“I always stop to talk to people and make new friends along the way,” he said adding that he has also picked up basic Thai.

His future plans include setting up his own consulting firm to help with the opening of new hotels and resorts, especially in the food and beverage department.

“I want to take it slow so that I can enjoy some time with my only daughter and spouse. 

“My daughter is already in the University of Queensland in Brisbane. My advice to her is to always aim high and be honest.”

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