What was your first industry job?
I grew up working in my family’s restaurant, Talesai, the first mainstream Thai restaurant in LA and the first to cater to a celebrity clientele. I watched my grandmother cook for Hollywood types like David Geffen, Warren Beatty, and Mick Jagger and Jack Nicholson.
If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
This is one of the most difficult questions for me to answer because it is impossible to consider a life where I am not cooking. But, I went to New York University for film school. Maybe I would be making movies.
What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Other than my grandmother, I would say Wolfgang Puck. Spago is the restaurant I want to eat at every single night. He is a legend, and continues to charm guests table-side.
Pet hate in the kitchen?
I prefer to work in silence. But, many of my cooks appreciate background music.
Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
The restaurants are built around the idea of friends coming together over boldly-seasoned food meant to inspire the drinking of natural wine and cocktails. There’s a Thai expression that translates to “food to facilitate drinking and fun having amongst friends,” and that is the type of food I love to consume and cook.
What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
I don’t read reviews.
Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
A sharp Japanese knife.
What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Dinah’s fried chicken; Shunji omakase; and bottle of moussamoussettes from Domaine Mosse.
Favourite fast food joint?
Jack in the Box late at night for a sourdough jack and curly fries.
Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
All food media.
Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
Filmmaker Werner Herzog, winemaker Thierry Puzelat, chef Wolfgang Puck, restauranteur Keith McNally, designer Tom Ford, and journalist Bari Weiss.
What’s your earliest food memory?
One of the earliest food memories I have is cooking very simple dishes for me and my grandfather. Stuff like white rice with a fried egg and nam prik (aka Thai salsa).
Twitter or Instagram?
Tipple of choice?
Vodka martini up with a twist.
What do you consider your signature dish?
If I’m cooking for friends at home, it’s a roast chicken with smashed crispy potatoes. I’ll make an aioli. I am a big fan of sauces and dips. That or steak au poivre.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
I encourage anyone who wants to work in the food and hospitality industry to approach each day as a chance to learn. Be open-minded and be a student.