Chef Manaow is a 3rd generation Thai chef and was born in Nakhon Sawan in central Thailand. At the age of 2, Manaow’s family relocated to the northern province of Chiang Mai.
At first her grand parents sold food at the local morning market. To the left of their stall was a Chinese family selling tofu and on the other side a Thai family from the south of Thailand selling fresh coconut milk. At this time, in the early 1980s nobody in Chiang Mai had seen tofu before and to begin with, they thought it was soap! They were also intrigued with the fresh coconut milk because at that time northern Thai cuisine didn’t use coconut milk at all. But they were even more intrigued with what Manaow’s grandparents were selling..
Manaow’s grandparents had decided to sell a very common dish from where they came from in central Thailand, but it was something the northern Thai’s has never seen before.. Green Curry!
The people of Chiang Mai had never seen a curry that was green in colour! Not to mention a curry that was made using coconut milk! Thus, Manaow’s family were some of the first people to introduce Green Curry to the north of Thailand!
It caused quite a stir but it was actually quite a while before it became a popular food with the locals.
A few months later her grand parents opened the Golden Castle Restaurant (ครัวปราสาททอง) in Meung Samut road in Chiang Mai city. In time it became an incredibly popular restaurant as it only served traditional food from central Thailand that wasn’t available anywhere else in the north. (The cuisine of central Thailand is what we mostly see in Thai restaurants in the west).
As well as hot food they also sold their own green curry paste as there were only a handful of people in the north who new how to make it.
It wasn’t long before Manaow’s parents started working at the Golden Castle and thus from the age of 3, Manaow spent most of her time in the restaurant growing up around Thai food! Eventually her parents took over the restaurant and Manaow spent her teens helping out in the restaurant and learning all the family recipes until the age of 18. It was then that she moved to Bangkok to study Law at Ramkamheang University in Bangkok.
While she was studying in Bangkok Manaow opened a noodle soup shop with her friend. It didn’t last long though as the demands of studying Law were just too much.
It would be a long time until Manaow worked with food again..
Several years later she met her husband, Matthew and they relocated to the south of England. Because they still spent several months each year in Thailand they didn’t want the commitment of opening a Thai restaurant in England. Instead, they came up with a suitable alternative.
They decided to set up ‘Taste of Thailand’, an outdoor Thai catering business. Throughout the summer they sell Thai food at festivals throughout the south of England.