What fuels your culinary creativity?
Fresh and seasonal ingredients have a big impact on my creativity - I am inspired by whatever produce is in season. Thai mangoes, for example, are only available in summer time. The way people eat has changed now too. Many diners don’t linger in restaurants for long meals so you need to be creative about cooking delicious dishes quickly.
How has your cooking style evolved over the years, given you’ve now been at Nipa Thai for more than 16 years?
When I first came to the UK, Thai ingredients were so rare so it was very difficult to get hold of anything other than the most basic ingredients - even fresh chillies or lemongrass were difficult to source.
Over the years, I have found that diners are becoming more adventurous about the kinds of dishes they want to eat. They’re not just ordering Thai green curry anymore, although of course that’s still a firm favourite. The supplier can also provide us with more exotic ingredients now that help to create a better variety of dishes.
Are you witnessing any new trends in Thai cuisine?
I have started to see an increase in the use of European cooking techniques - for example slow cooking meat. There’s also a trend towards using new, unexpected ingredients in traditional recipes, such as lobster in Pad Thai.
What is your idea of ‘food heaven’ and ‘food hell’?
Durian is my food heaven, you either love it or hate it. I am not very keen on anything too heavy or stodgy.
Who has inspired your cooking? Are there any chefs that you look up to?
My mother was an extremely good cook. I used to watch her cook when I was young and she really inspired me to become a chef. I admire Mary Berry’s energy and stamina.
What is an inspirational quote that you live by?
Be the best you can be.
What city do you find the most?
New York – it’s buzzing, lively and multicultural.
London – there’s always something going on and it has the world’s best culinary scene.
British Columbia in Canada, the natural landscape is amazing.
-like a home away from home?
Thailand, of course!