I grew up eating mixed plates before I knew it had a name. Our holidays were always a mix of various foods and flavors. Thanksgiving, for example, would be a table full of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, fish curries, satays, steamed jasmine rice, noodles and always plenty of hot Thai chili sauces.
I started to learn how to cook Thai meals at a very young age when my family opened our first restaurant in Seattle in 1982. The restaurant was very popular and after my father finished his day working as an operations manager at IBM, he would go to the restaurant in Bell Town to help my mother with the dinner service. My parents stocked the freezer well for my sister and me, but after about a week of eating TV dinners I decided enough was enough. I took the bus downtown by myself and started learning to cook. My mother and uncle taught me everything they knew. My uncle, Hwang, didn’t speak English very well yet and I did not know Thai very well but we got along just fine. He would point and I would watch. My first dish was Phud Thai noodles and it’s still a favorite of mine to this day. After my “apprenticeship” with Uncle Hwang, I ventured out of the kitchen and spent many years learning how to operate every aspect of the family business.
I remember one of my first trips to Hawaii as a teenager. I fell in love with the Islands and was amazed that there was a place where people ate like I did. Being of mixed race (half German-half Thai), and having a father who had traveled the world, I had always known meals to be a combination of different cooking styles with spices and flavors from many different countries. I loved how in Hawaii after a long day at the beach I could go get a mixed plate lunch of my choice. Options like kalua pork, curries, steamed fish, adobo, noodles, fried chicken, hamburger with gravy, teriyaki, short ribs…and always with 2 scoops of rice and mac salad. Let me tell ya, I was in heaven.
I earned a BA in Hotel and Restaurant Administration from WSU; I have worked for corporate restaurants, owned and operated my owned food businesses, ran booths at local festivals. And now it’s time to bring my favorite foods to the streets of Seattle via my food truck. Buddha Bruddah is who I am and Asian mixed plates are what I love.
See you in the streets,