Watch this space.
Watch this space.
- By Megan Leon
- | Feb 07, 2019
Think Bangkok’s the center of everything? That might well be the case, but there’s a diaspora of talented Thai chefs cooking up a storm in some of the world’s most exciting kitchens and earning praise for it, from London to Sydney, Copenhagen to San Francisco. Ensuring that, when the world thinks "Thai food" it doesn't think greasy egg-noodle pad Thai, sugary-sweet green curry and gloopy chicken-cashew dishes, these chefs are bringing authentic flavors from their home country to cities around the world.
Kris Yenbamroong - Night+Market, L.A., US.
Kris, the 33-year-old chef and owner of L.A.’s Night+Market, is currently one of the hottest chefs stateside. Though born and raised in Los Angeles, Kris spent part of his childhood in Thailand where he even attended an international boarding school. After working hard to revamp his family’s longtime Thai restaurant, Talesai, he launched Night+Market seven years ago—all without any official culinary training. Now with three Night+Market restaurants to his name, Kris is known for his fun, informal approach to traditional cooking. Of his 2017 cookbook, named after his restaurant, he told Food and Wine, “The book (and the restaurant) isn’t about cooking in Thailand. It’s about cooking Thai food in the United States.” In 2014, Night+Market was named the 17th best restaurant in Los Angeles (out of a list of 101) by the late and great Pulitzer prize-winning writer Jonathan Gold for the L.A. Times. Back in September 2012, he was named Chef of the Year by Los Angeles Magazine and he’s since guest hosted Munchies’ Guide to Hollywood.
Meena Throngkumpola - Executive Chef at Long Chim Sydney, Australia
Chef Meena is the Executive Chef of Long Chim Sydney, the Thai restaurant chain of the one and only David Thompson (formerly of Nahm). Born and raised in Texas, Meena kept up ties with her Thai heritage by helping her mother cook noodles at a Buddhist Centre in Dallas each Sunday. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, in 2005, she spent another 11 years in the Big Apple working at Nobu 57. She then spent three months helping out with the operations of Nobu in Melbourne, during which time she fell in love with Australia. Since taking the reins of Long Chim’s Sydney outpost, Meena’s appeared on TV shows like The Chefs’ Line, in which home cooks do battle against top chefs from around the country, and radio programs such as ABC’s Chef’s Challenge.
Saiphin Moore - Rosa’s Thai Cafe, U.K.
Chef Saiphin is the brains behind by London-born restaurant chain Rosa’s Thai Cafe, and her story is an inspiring one. Her love of food began at a young age when she would help her mom cook big family meals, as well as assist in the running of her family farm and her grandparents’ grocery store in Khao Kho. By the time she’d left school, Saiphin had started growing her own crops, and by 13, she’d managed to sell enough coriander to buy a motorbike and start making deliveries to neighboring villages. By 16, Saiphin had opened a noodle shop in her parents’ front room. During a stint in Hong Kong she met her husband, and they then moved to the U.K. where she opened her first restaurant in east London in 2008. Rosa’s is now a popular mini chain of 13 Thai restaurants across London and chef Saiphin prides herself on creating authentic Thai dishes reminiscent of the cooking on her family farm.
Dak Laddaporn - Kiin Kiin, Copenhagen, Denmark
Born in Nong Khai on the northeastern Thai-Laos border, Dak grew up on straight Isaan cooking. After only a few years, however, she moved to Denmark with her mother and stepfather. She always had a passion to cook but only truly became interested when she read an article about a Thai restaurant run by a man named Henrik Yde-Andersen that had a Michelin star. After working as an apprentice in a few kitchens, she moved to Copenhagen specifically to work in the kitchen at Kiin Kiin. Dak is currently the head chef of Kiin Kiin, which is heralded for its modern interpretations of Thai food, as well as a sister location here in Bangkok, Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin at the Siam Kempinski. She’s known to make here own fish sauce.
Pim Techamuanvivit - Kin Khao, San Francisco, U.S.
Chef Pim made headlines last year when she was appointed the new head of Nahm after David Thompson stepped down. What some might not know is that she also still oversees her first restaurant, Kin Khao, back in San Francisco. Originally a food writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times and Food & Wine Magazine, Pim opened Kin Khao in 2014 and won her first star in 2016. Her Chez Pim food blog was called the world’s sixth top food blog by London’s Times newspaper. Born and raised in Bangkok, she travels back and forth from the states. Read our 2018 interview here.
Nawamin Pinpathomrat - U.K. Masterchef competitor
In 2018, 27-year-old Nawamin Pinpathomrat from Songkhla Province cooked his way to the finals of the UK’s televised MasterChef competition, coming in second place and coming within a hand-pressed parmesan wafer of winning outright. A Ph.D research student at Oxford University, he is currently trying to find a cure for tuberculosis at after he witnessed how the disease affected patients in his native Thailand. His dreams are to open a restaurant where the profits will go to help those in need back home. Read our interview here.
Seefah Ketchaiyo - The Blue, Mumbai, India
If you’re in Mumbai and having a deep hankering for Thai food, make sure you stop at Seefah (formerly The Blue). Chef Seefah along with her chef husband have been running the popular Thai/Japanese restaurant since 2016. After launching, Vogue called it the city’s “best-kept food secret.” Seefah has had no formal training, but learnt skills in Thai cooking from her father. After working in five-star hotels, including the Four Seasons in Mumbai, she decided set up her own place with her Japan-trained husband, Karan Bane. In 2017, Seefah and Bane were awarded Best New Asian Restaurant by Mumbai lifestyle newspaper Mid-day.com, and also named joint Mumbai Chef of the Year by The Times of India.
Aum Touchpong Chancaw - Moon, Sydney, Australia
Chef Aum has had 16 years of culinary experience in kitchens across Europe, Asia and Australia. He’s trained under traditional Thai chefs and also studied French cuisine. After serving as head chef at popular Sydney restaurant Longrain, he decided to open up his own place called Moon, in Darlinghurst. The menu here follows a European-Thai theme, combining Aum’s culinary background in molecular gastronomy with traditional Thai cooking. Alongside the traditional pad Thai and pad see ew, he’s also been known to make a reworked green curry with fish, winter melon, fried anchovies and basil.
Leela Punyaratabandhu - cookbook author and blogger
Leela is the author of the award-winning cooking blog She Simmers, as well as the cookbook Bangkok: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Thailand. Since 2008, she has written about Thai cuisine on her cooking blog, which was named the best Regional Cuisine blog in 2012 by Saveur Magazine. She sets out to recreate Thai dishes and you can spot her work in various outlets like CNN Travel, The Wall Street Journal. She’s also a regular contributor on the food website, Serious Eats. Born in Bangkok, she now splits her time between here and Chicago writing about Thai food and Thai restaurants both in the U.S. and Thailand. In 2018, her book Bangkok won the prestigious Art of Eating Prize, which is awarded to just one food book of the year. You can keep track of her findings and dishes through her beautiful Instagram feed.