BANGKOK – The menu at backyard restaurant at first glance contains many of the culinary elements you would expect. But intertwined and infused into each of the dishes, there is something unusual.
Silkworms, wingless long horned grasshoppers and bamboo caterpillars are unabashedly showcased as integral parts of each plate.
The dishes are creatively composed and executed with precision. Still, seeing a giant water beetle with wings outstretched perched on pasta – as elegant as that might sound – is a challenge for the uninitiated diner.
Chef Gong, as he is known, of Insects in the Back Yards, is not just dabbling with bugs. His entire premise, a deep dive into an alternative protein that he believes will shake the restaurant industry in the coming years.
“In our restaurant, we strive to bring bugs to be made into food for people to feel, eat and taste, and to make them open their minds in order to prepare themselves for the near future.”
All of the insects used in the restaurant are sourced from organic operations, mostly in northern and eastern Thailand. It is an important guiding philosophy – produce that is sustainably farmed or foraged and which supports local producers.
Being conscientious of the origin of food and its impact on the planet has been a leading trend in global food in recent years.
Yet despite their obvious health benefits bugs are still a culinary oddity
But Chef Gong is sure bugswill be the next big thing. Aside from the fun he derives from experimenting and creating, driving his concept is a desire to tackle looming food supply issues.
“We see that in the future, the population will increase and there won’t be enough protein sources for the increased population. “We will use more water, more electricity, and more manpower. So, we looked for alternative sources of protein. We then found insects,” he said.
“If we wanted to have cow farming, we would need to cut down trees or buy bigger land and build a factory. But for bug farming, we need less space, we use less water and we need less feed. This will help a lot if we start to wake up.”
Even in Thailand where insect consumption is part of the culture of many communities. Chef Gong knows that customers sticking a fork into a bug on their plate is not an easy task.
“For people who have never tried insects before, when we serve the dishes and say, ‘enjoy your dinner.’ Some of them would say ‘oh my god.’ Some of them scream or say they have goosebumps.
But once they try the dishes, they would say they are delicious,” Surasit said.
Thailand has become the world’s leader in this industry, and Chef Gong is far from alone in seizing the initiative to promote this kind of eating.
Insects have long been grown for eating in Thailand. Approximately 20,000 farms operating across the country grow bugs.
Thailand as “one of the few countries in the world to have developed a viable and thriving insect farming sector”.
Source: Channel News Asia