The San Francisco chef Pim Techamuanvivit has taken the helm at Nahm, the widely acclaimed Thai restaurant in Bangkok. Nahm first opened in London in 2001, but the Australian chef and cookbook author David Thompson opened the Bangkok outpost in 2010 inside the COMO Metropolitan Bangkok, a hotel in the Sathorn district.
Under Mr. Thompson’s leadership, the Bangkok restaurant turned up on lists like the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and earned a Michelin star when the guidebook announced its picks in Bangkok last year.
Mr. Thompson, who also led the London kitchen, is regarded by many as one of the world’s great authorities on Thai cuisine, though as the British restaurant critic Jay Rayner put it in his 2001 review of the London Nahm, “I find it a little odd, not to say uncomfortable, that the man regarded as the world’s greatest Thai chef by the restaurant world should be a white Australian.”
Ms. Techamuanvivit, who was born and raised in Bangkok, left the city for graduate school in the United States. Since 2014, she has run Kin Khao, a Thai restaurant in San Francisco that was also awarded a Michelin star just a year after it opened. She plans to split her time between the two cities and the two restaurants, though she isn’t sure of her exact schedule; she has been in Bangkok for just over a week.
In an interview on Tuesday, Ms. Techamuanvivit’s first day leading the restaurant, she was meeting with the hotel group’s lead engineer and kitchen designer, getting acquainted with the flow of the kitchen and observing how things run as she figures out exactly where to update or restructure the line.
On Wednesday, she plans to travel north to visit some farms and connect with new producers.
Ms. Techamuanvivit will order new equipment and plan a renovation of the kitchen — which is about 3,500 square feet — and 70-seat dining room, temporarily closing the restaurant down the road before Nahm’s official reboot. “It’s going to be a slow transition,” she said, and there will be no major changes until then.
Nahm’s large kitchen team of 24 full-time cooks and six stagaires remains about the same as it was during Mr. Thompson’s tenure, with the exception of its head chef, Prin Polsuk, who left earlier this year. Ms. Techamuanvivit has named a new head chef, Suraja Ruangnukulkit, who goes by Jan. (She noted that the title of “head chef” in Thailand is interchangeable in the United States with “chef de cuisine.”)
“I know I have a contribution to make to this conversation about Thai food,” said Ms Techamuanvivit, aware of her predecessor’s legacy. “And I’m not afraid to work my way out of anyone’s shadow.”
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