Born in Austin, Texas, 32-year old Dalad Kambhu was raised in Bangkok. In order to work as a model, she travelled to New York at the beginning of her 20ies and discovered her true passion whilst working diverse jobs in restaurants: her heart was in cooking. At the same time, she studied International
Business and Marketing. After a time, she moved to Europe, where, as an autodidact, she opened her first restaurant “Kin Dee” in 2017.
This was awarded a Michelin Star a short time ago. The cosmopolitan Dalad Kambhu values fresh, locally-sourced ingredients which do not have to be typical to Thai cuisine. In addition, she stands up for the cause of women not getting lost in the hard, male-dominated competition. She is a strong woman, who has managed to make a name for herself by sheer hard work and a true talent.
Could you explain more about how you combine this, your roots with the style you cook now.
My cooking is a combination of my experiences in New York and my childhood memories of Thai food, staying true to my roots and the flavours I grew up with. It’s kind of hard to explain how such unique experiences are combined but somehow I have merged them internally and this unison is what has become Kin Dee.
What kind of creator are you and what do you want to achieve for your client or for your guests?
I think when we make food, I want people to be somewhere else. I want my food to have an impact or create an experience, in which guests can enjoy a meal and feel like they are being transported on a mini-vacation. I think it’s important that people get to taste what true Thai food is, and can be.
You were awarded a Michelin Star and are now Germany’s first Thai star chef, what does this mean for you personally? How was it to get this award?
Being awarded a star was so unexpected for me and yet it was such a big deal and honour. I really didn't expect it – I am a self-trained chef, I didn’t go through professional training, I just taught myself.
And when you look back, what’s your superpower?
I think it’s my ability to not give up. I've been told so many times by males, particularly western males, who have never spent time in Thailand, how to cook Thai food. If I had listened to those men and let them tell me what to do, I wouldn't be here.
Who is your role model?
I grew up with the notion that the women in our family are strong and often have great careers. My great grandmother was one of the very first female entrepreneurs of Thailand. She published the majority of schoolbooks in Thailand while taking care of her husband. Meanwhile, my grandmother is eighty years old and is still working now. She led the budgetary State Department and was responsible for developing the budget for the entire country before retiring work on the King’s project, developing land and communities for people in the rural areas in the north of Thailand. This position is typically appointed by the King and requires a huge amount of trust.