The food at Kimpton Kitalay Samui is different because we are getting past those classic resort type menus and concepts. Instead, we find and follow our own way.

Hailing from Galicia, Spain, Chef Jacobo Astray Tudela is the Executive Chef at Kimpton's newly opened Kimpton Kitalay Samui. Chef Jacobo has been passionate about food since childhood and has worked across the planet in some of the world's top restaurants including El Bulli which is the only restaurant ever making it onto the World's 50 Best Restaurant list five times. His Spanish touch is felt throughout the property at Kimpton Kitalay Samui and his food, service and style impressed us enough that he is this month's Chef of the Month.

What makes your food unique?

The food at Kimpton Kitalay Samui is different because we are getting past those classic resort type menus and concepts. Instead, we find and follow our own way.

As a brand, Kimpton prides itself on its one-of-a-kind first-class restaurants and bars. The experience found at every Kimpton restaurant is spontaneous and inviting, with a focus on incorporating local elements -- ranging from the décor and ingredients to regional trends and the resort location itself, staying true to this, Kimpton Kitalay Samui's 4 distinctive R&B outlets reflect our creativity and how we challenge ourselves to venture into different and unique menu directions.

For example, FishHouse, our elevated reinterpretation of a traditional fisherman's retreat pays tribute to the local oceanic heritage of island living here in Koh Samui, highlighting the freshness of the sea's bounty. However, flavours here run the gamut from east to west and taste profiles hail from global heritage cuisine. You'll see this expressed through highlights like our standout Paellas, Thai-inspired Curry Crab Rolls, the Gambas Ajillo, which has Spanish roots, and Red Tuna, prepared tataki-style.

How has the feedback been since opening? How have guests been responding to your menus?

The overall feedback has been very positive. We are getting many compliments from our guests. They love our breakfast at BoHo, especially some of the signature à la carte dishes like the Smashed Avocado, and Chao Samui benedict, as well as our Thai breakfast dishes such as Dtai Set Breakfast and Lanna Set Breakfast are well received.

But the best feedback is saved for our signature restaurant FishHouse, and not only from our in-house guests, but also our customers who live on the island. They have been effusive with their positive comments and have been returning to dine, which is the best feedback we can receive. We are working hard to make sure that we deliver the best experience possible.

What are the challenges you have operating on the Island of Samui?

Personally, I love working with my local team, who are dedicated and passionate, with a great love for what they do. With any team, there was lots of learning and adjusting to do at the beginning, and there was a definite learning curve for me. However, as I've had 8 years of experience working in Thailand, I was able to adapt quickly.

Operationally, it's always an exciting challenge to cater to our diverse guests, who each have their own expectations and requirements. I welcome these as they allow my team and me to flex our creative muscles and bring to life the ridiculously personal experience and heartfelt service that Kimpton is known for.

When it comes to sourcing ingredients, we have to work closely with local producers and our network of international suppliers. As you can imagine, this is a highly coordinated juggling act at times! On the other hand, there is an advantage if you are looking for local seafood products, as we can get fresh seafood every day from markets near us on Koh Samui.

What is One Dish you'd recommend to guests who have never had Spanish cuisine before.

It's hard to just pick one dish! Spanish cuisine is more than a dish or two, and encompasses products, seasons, the sea, the land, simplicity, regions, tradition, modernity, people, culture, and fiesta!

The variety of its culture is what makes Spanish cuisine vast and unique. To give a recommendation of only one dish, I would have to go with the Black Paella. You might know it as "Arroz Negro," the Spanish rice dish coloured with squid ink, the natural food colouring used in Spain for centuries. Cooked in a paella pan and topped with grilled squid and flavourful alioli, Black Paella is a great sharing dish for a family or a group of friends. To date, this is our most ordered and complimented dish at FishHouse since our opening!

What are your 'Kitchen Rules'?

Treat the ingredients with love.

The way you treat ingredients can make a huge difference to the final dish. When we treat ingredients with care, even the humble potato or ubiquitous jasmine rice can be transformed into a delightful flavour experience for our guests' delight and enjoyment.

In my kitchen, I also dislike food wastage, and my staff are trained to mindfully use all ingredients and approach them with gratitude.