Phuket, Days 17-18


After a few days of relaxation, we were ready to kick it in to gear. Things like “chilling” and “lounging” come so easily when you’re spending a few days on a beach in Thailand, but we were ready to see what else the neighborhood had to offer.

Our first stop: Kamala Beach. We spent a little time chilling (you have to ease into actual activities), then decided on a little jet skiing and parasailing. Lunch on the beach, a bit more lounging, and we called it a night. After all, we had even more planned for the next day.

Our next day was dedicated to some genuine, adventure-filled exploring of Phuket Island. The day began with one of Thailand’s famous past-times, go-karting, followed by a little shooting (clay discs only, thank you). Our final stop: ATVs in the jungle. We ran into some massive elephants, got our jungle on for a bit, then finished up our day of physical challenges for an evening of culinary challenges…


What’s a day with Mike and Chao without a little cooking and a lot of eating? That’s why we decided it was time for the Iron Chef Thailand Cook-Off. In one corner, we have Chao, a seasoned chef and one half of the renowned dining/traveling team known as Mike and Chao. In the other corner, Maew, a relative newcomer on our blog who took center stage New Year’s Day with her surprising culinary accumen and detailed presentation. The key ingredients of the day: corn and pork.


As the race got underway, the name of the game was decisiveness. Maew got off to a hot start, moving with diligence and a clear plan in mind. Chao took a minute to strategize, but responded to the concerned looks of guests with a stern, “I got this.”

Once both chefs were in the kitchen and moving, there was no getting in there. The one thing about sharing a kitchen in a competition like this–no room for surprises. On several occasions they couldn’t resist from sneaking a peek. The only other soul allowed in the kitchen was Peter, mixing up some specialty mixed cocktails and keeping an eye on the ongoing challenge.


That’s when thing started to escalate, beginning with Chao’s singular utterance: “Goddamn it…” His butter sauce had separated, a pretty basic mistake for a chef of his caliber. He tried like hell to get it back together, but recovering from a misstep like that is no easy feat. Meanwhile, Ms. Maew was all smiles, chugging away on her dish with speed and precision. Chao watched, shaking his head and declaring that it was all over.


Mike and the rest of the crew watched as Chao teetered on throwing in the towel, but pushed him to keep on trucking. Still unhappy with his sauce, he decided to press on–just without the pork part of the challenge. You can blame that on his secret taste of Maew’s pork dish–“It’s just too good.”



When it came down to it, Chao’s shrimp with corn and butter sauce couldn’t stand up to Maew’s garlic shrimp with corn. The flavor on Maew’s shrimp was perfectly balanced with the corn, leaving Chao’s dish tasting just a little bit salty (and then there was the butter sauce, which had been sadly irredeemable).


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