On a roadside two hours south of Bangkok in Phetchaburi province… a local food vendor is preparing to harness the power of the sun for the most talked about part of his menu: solar chicken.
CGTN America’s Joshua Barlow has more.
Thailand is hot for Sila's solar chickenOn a roadside two hours south of Bangkok, a local food vendor is harnessing the power of the sun for the most popular part of his menu: Solar chicken.
Sixty-year-old Sila Sutharat uses a wall of about one thousand mirrors to focus the sun’s rays onto a rack of marinated chicken. It’s a system he invented himself.
He says inspiration for the device came 20 years ago when he noticed how the sun’s heat reflected off a passing bus.
“I thought, with this heat reflecting from the window from the sun, I could possibly change it into energy,” Sila said.
And he did. Not only did his invention work, but using the makeshift solar panels ended up saving Sila a great deal of money in energy costs.
“At the time, energy was becoming more expensive. For example petrol, gas, and they were running out of wood to sell,” Sila said. “If I use solar energy I could save a lot. So I thought, hmm it’s possible, and it decreases the pollution.”
PHOTOS: Sila’s solar chicken
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It’s efficient too. Silas says his solar array can cook a full chicken in about twelve minutes.
Because of the intense heat from the mirrors, Sila has to wear protective gear – like a welders mask – to avoid severe burns.
Sila says people thought his solar reflector idea was crazy at first, but over time they came around.
“After a long time passed by, they’d say: ‘Actually, you could do it’,” he said.
For two decades, Sila’s roadside restaurant has been a mostly local phenomenon. But, over the last few years, his solar cooker has become a big hit on Thai TV and social media. Customers have been flocking from all over the country. Visitors to Thailand are also eager to try Sila’s solar chicken… if they can find him.
Sila and wife Pansri now cook around 40 chickens — as well as several sides of pork – every day. His customers can definitely taste the difference with their solar cooked feast.
“We’ve been eating here for a long time – it’s delicious,” said customer Thanyarat Kaewpaleuk. “His chicken is fatty, it’s not burned and doesn’t smell like a charcoal grill, which you can smell on the meat.”
At the end of the day, taste is what matters most. But don’t wait that long… The solar cooker doesn’t work at night.