Bangkok street vendor with Michelin star wants to give it back

Jay Fai is not the first chef to express this desire

Chelsea Ritschel
in New York
Tuesday 09 January 2018 19:19 GMT

Receiving a Michelin Star may be one of the highest honours bestowed on a chef - but for one street vendor in Bangkok, life, before she received the star, was preferable - and she would like to give the star back.

When Michelin, the French tire company that also distributes international dining guides, first announced they would be publishing a guide to Bangkok, many wondered whether any of the street food vendors would receive a star.

Just one did - the culinary genius behind the eatery Raan Jay Fai, who has since been dubbed the “crab omelette queen.”

But it turns out life in the starlight isn’t as great as it seems.

The vendor, which can be found on the corner of Soi Samran Rat in the Phra Nakhon area of Bangkok, used to be relatively inconspicuous.

Now, since receiving her one Michelin Star in December, the vendor is hard to miss - because the line for her food wraps around the block.

While this may sound like a good thing, for Supinya Junsuta, who goes by Jay Fai, the attention has been unwanted - and unwelcome.

According to reports by Eater, the distinction has “drawn the attention of tourists, foodies, and even a couple of curious tax department officials to Raan Jay Fai’s small space.”

Raan Jay Fai is known for its crab omelettes
Raan Jay Fai is known for its crab omelettes

And now Jay Fai, the 72-year-old chef whose crab omelettes are responsible for drawing the crowd, wants to give the star back because, in addition to the crowds, the star has caused other annoyances.

Fai said: “Many people come just to see and take pictures and not necessarily to eat.”

The newfound fame has also forced the tiny eatery to begin taking reservations - a demand that forced Jay Fai’s daughter, Yuawadee Junsuta to quit her job so she could work full time at Raan Jay Fai.

And because Jay Fai fears increasing prices would cause her to lose customers, the increased demand for her food has not meant she has become wealthy. Rather, she is actually spending more on ingredients to keep up with the crowd.

But despite her mother’s pleas, Junsuta wants customers to know: “Before or after Michelin, we see ourselves the same way. Jay Fai is still Jay Fai.” But it is when “the customers to come us and say that they love our food, we are rewarded a million stars that matter every day.”

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