Krissy, tell us a little about your background and how you learned to cook?
I am from Udon Thani, in the North East of Thailand. This region is known as “Isan” and we have our own distinctive dialect, music and of course, food!
We share some of our cultural elements with neighbouring Laos and are proud to be the region which first produced sticky rice, som tam (spicy papaya salad) and larb (meat salad.)
I learned to cook at a young age by watching different family members at close hand and being asked to gradually help out more and more. Cooking and eating communally is a part of life in Thailand, particularly in the countryside and learning recipes handed down by generations helped me to build up a wealth of culinary experience.
Did you always plan to be a chef or to work in catering?
Honestly, no. I never considered doing this for a living. When I finished school, I moved to Bangkok and went to University before working in marketing and insurance for a few years. During this time, I maintained my love of cooking and trying new recipes, but didn’t see it as my career path.
So what changed?
I met my future partner whilst on holiday in England a few years ago and after some time, the decision was made that I would relocate to the UK. When I cooked for friends and family, the feedback to my surprise was overwhelmingly positive and I was actively encouraged to consider setting up a business supplying my food to people in the local area. The idea for KHD Catering was born and at the time of talking, we are just 4 weeks in and starting to make lots of wonderful new friends along the way!
Congratulations on getting your new business idea off the ground. What is your long-term objective?
You could say that I probably couldn’t have picked a worse time to launch a catering business, however in life you have to be optimistic at all times and so despite the current challenges (of Covid-19) we are focusing on getting the name out there, pushing hard to find and delight new customers. The obvious opportunity comes from people being “locked down” and unable to go out to restaurants, pubs or cafes. There are probably also a lot of people who are tired of cooking! For that reason, we are delivering food to people’s doors and so far, it’s working well.
When I first sketched out the business plan, I envisaged us supplying food solely for large gatherings or events, but market conditions have led us to preparing food from scratch, packaging and labelling it and then sending it out for home delivery. We’re only 4 weeks in, but very happy with our customers feedback so far and hope to continue building our base of followers.
What challenges have you faced in terms of reproducing authentic Thai recipes so far from home?
I always try to produce Thai cuisine based on the original recipes – albeit in my own style – so I always leave room for a little creativity. Based on feedback, I will always make little adjustments here and there to try and get a little closer to the wow factor!
Because of the distance from Thailand, I do sometimes experience challenges in procuring certain types of fruit and vegetables (mango and durian, to name two examples.) To overcome this, I have to become inventive with my cooking from time to time, but I feel as though the end results can enhance the flavours and texture.
Are you still targeting catering for large events?
Very much so – we have received some initial enquiries on that front which are generating positive discussions already. The long-term vision is to bring Thai cuisine (and maybe for those who love spicy food – Isan dishes) to a wider audience. Although there are quite a few Thai restaurants in the UK, it’s often the case that people tend to be familiar with only a handful of established dishes. Another area that is lesser known is Thai desserts, which are like an art form in themselves. As we increase our reach and people become more aware of what we offer, I feel that there are some real culinary treats in store!
Do you have any advice for budding chefs?
Believe in yourself. Stay humble. Work hard and always strive for perfection.
Thank you Krissy for your time today – keep your delicious food coming 😊