Photography by Danny Fulgencio

Three favorite neighborhood chefs’ indulgences, ingredients and last meals.

What is your favorite meal?

Thai food! Yes, I’m biased. It’s my hometown cooking. I also crave sushi, Italian, barbecue, boiled seafood and dim sum.

What would your last meal be?

Yum Woon Sen. This is the dish I grew up eating and something I crave all the time. It’s a Thai clear noodle salad laced with fresh lime juice, Thai chilies, fish sauce, shallots, herbs and peanuts. I would have that with green curry, Thai fried omelet and jasmine rice.

My indulgence is chocolate desserts. My favorite combinations would be chocolate and passion fruit, chocolate and Matcha green tea, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. It can be cold, warm, hard, soft or spongy. OMG, I could go on!

Did You Know?

Chef Phinyawatana presented a gelatin dessert that looked like a clear glass paperweight witha handmade flower for dinner at the James Beard House in NYC.

My least favorite ingredient is dill. I will not cook with it. I have tried to like it but I just can’t.

My favorite ingredient is herbs. It’s a whole category, but I can’t just pick cilantro and not scallions. When I’m chopping them, the smells remind me of my hometown of Thailand and the earth that they came from.

What’s one thing you wish you could make every day? I would be making and eating beautiful desserts. I am a pastry chef at heart and love to play with sugar, butter, flour, eggs, chocolate and so much more. You get to play with science, textures and colors imitating nature or modern symmetry.

What’s your favorite cooking technique?

I love to stir fry for instant gratification. The charred smell of ingredients in a hot wok and the sizzling sound is the best. For my pastry side, I love to cream butter and sugar. Or whipping anything in my Kitchen Aid.

What is one thing you hate watching home cooks do?

I may get frustrated to see someone be uninspired to make a Thai dish because it seems too difficult. Don’t fuss over how something is cut, chopped, minced or sliced. Just do it the way it inspires you and just keep it uniformed for even cooking. I love teaching someone all about the Thai flavors as a building block for all Asian- inspired cooking.


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