A Culinary Journey from London to Bangkok

"From Local Roots to Global Heights."

Chef Top Russell, a Thai-born culinary innovator, began his illustrious career after moving from Phuket to the Isle of Wight, UK, at the age of 15. Over the next decade, he worked in various esteemed Michelin-starred restaurants in London and Singapore, including Sketch under Pierre Gagnaire and Pollen under Jason Atherton. Known for his creative approach to vegan and plant-based cuisine, Chef Russell has been recognized as a top young chef and has committed himself to showcasing local Thai produce through modern culinary techniques.

Now based in Bangkok, he leads Mia Restaurant ,One Star in the Michelin Guide as chef Patron and Managing Partner, where his work continues to push the boundaries of traditional and contemporary cuisine.

Mia Restaurant in Bangkok, under the culinary leadership of Chef Top Russell, stands as a beacon of innovative vegan and plant-based dining. Nestled in the vibrant heart of the city, Mia offers a unique blend of modern European techniques with a distinct Thai influence, prioritizing sustainable and organic ingredients.

The Cuisine

Chef Russell’s menu at Mia is a testament to his Michelin-starred background and his dedication to vegan and vegetarian cuisine. Each dish is crafted with precision, utilizing locally sourced, organic ingredients to create complex, flavor-rich meals that appeal to all, regardless of dietary preference.

Culinary Close-Up

In the Kitchen with Chef Top Russell

Behind the doors at Mia Restaurant, Bangkok for close up experience in the kitchen where sustainability meets sophisticated taste. Discover how Chef Top Russell is also setting new standards for Vegan Cuisine in Bangkok

 Culinary Philosophy and Inspiration

What inspired your focus on vegan and vegetarian cuisine? 

–  We have always believed in the true value of serving others, and that value is very much ingrained in everything that we do. So it was a no-brainer for us to give our customers a choice. I don’t view being vegan and vegetarian any differently than being religious and having eating restraints. Where we stand out is the effort and creativity that we put in, which is the same as our regular menu.

Signature Dishes – Chef Top Russell

Can you describe the process and inspiration behind one of your signature dishes?

–  The ‘Marriage’ is currently our favorite dish and is most likely a signature. We always joke that people think it’s a marriage between me and Michelle, but it’s actually a marriage between some of our favorite ingredients from the land and the sea. From the sea, we have some premium seafood kept in its most mature form (no or little added seasoning), which consists of N25 Caviar, bluefin tuna from Japan, and also Hokkaido scallops. From the land, we have preserved truffles, Kolrabi, and Shio.

What are your favorite seasonal ingredients to work with?

–  I love European green asparagus; I think they are always a highlight to look forward to. Also, blood oranges are a treat each time they come back into season again.

Challenges & Triumphs

What challenges have you faced in creating high-quality vegan dishes?

–  I think that we always have to be on standby for vegan dishes with no prior notice creates a set of challenges such as waste and also the extra training that goes into the training of new staff. However, it is totally worth it.

Can you share a memorable experience from your culinary career?

–  Going up to receive the Michelin Plaque with Michelle will always be a career highlight.

Future Culinary Trends

How do you see plant-based diets changing the culinary landscape in the next decade?

–  Not really, I think it will be more and more commercialized plant-based food that will come into play but not for the reason many think. I think people will eat more plant-based food out of pure joy more than anything else.

 Advice for Aspiring Chefs

What advice would you give to aspiring chefs interested in vegan cuisine?

–  Learn all types of cuisines, or at least have a basic understanding of how to season a dish and bring umami without the use of animal products. People forget that history is our best teacher. People have been eating plant-based foods for as long as animals were really hard to come by.

The Future of Mia Restaurant Bangkok

What does the future hold for Mia Restaurant?

–  My dream has always been to mentor the next generations of Thai chefs. There are so many talented people already making their mark. I want Mia to be almost a training institution where people really learn how to be chefs. Not in terms of creating dishes and balancing flavors, in terms of work ethics, attention to detail, discipline, and taking their craft seriously. It truly is a labor of love and a craft that you need to work on to improve. I think having staff fulfillment through added value of their time at Mia would be the ultimate dream for us. Everything else, such as accolades and business growth, will just be the by-product of this belief.

Close up with Chef Top Russell at Mia Restaurant One Michelin Star Bangkok, Thailand

Sustainability at Mia Restaurant Bangkok

How do you incorporate sustainability into your menu planning?

We approach sustainability very differently than most; we look at it in the form of people. We take our work-life balance extremely seriously and add value to their time. We find it odd that the world focuses so much on sustainability from an ingredients or cooking process point of view (which is important); however, we want to have a happy and fulfilled workforce first and foremost. A sustained workforce will enable you in the future to be more able to sustain in other departments.

Can you describe your process for sourcing local and organic ingredients?

–  We don’t decide on ingredients based on their geographical location. If we follow this measurement as a linear point of view, it would simplify a very complicated subject. We are in the business of being sustainable; we are in the business of serving our customers with the best dining experience possible first and foremost. I only use ingredients if they serve the best possible outcome for that particular dish. Everything else I view as an added bonus; if it’s local? Great. If it’s organic? Also great. If it’s neither, then that’s a shame, but the customer’s satisfaction comes first.

Vegan Philosophy

What initially inspired you to focus on plant-based cooking?

–  Freedom of choice and to choose what lifestyle and diet you want without the limitations of a nice restaurant. Also, my wife takes food restrictions very seriously, and she eats a lot of plant-based dishes out of the pure joy of eating plant-based dishes.

How do you develop new vegan dishes, and what influences your creative process?

–  Eating out, whenever we both eat something that we love, that always becomes a seed of inspiration for a new dish or yet a new component of a dish. Our avocado dish was inspired by a cocktail I made at a friend’s housewarming party. It was with blood orange, and I loved it so much I developed that flavor profile to go with avocado.

What strategies do you use to integrate a variety of textures and flavors into your vegan menu?

–  No strategies, just building a dish to have different contrasting textures to make the dish feel complete in the mouth.

Close up with Chef Top Russel at Mia 1*Michelin Restaurant Bangkok

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