Chef's Table with Kalaya's Chutatip "Nok" Suntaranon
Chutatip "Nok" Suntaranon spent 20 years as a flight attendant before becoming an award-winning chef.
State of play: Suntaranon is the chef and owner of the much-celebrated Thai restaurant in South Philly, Kalaya.
- She recently scored a nod as a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic region, after securing a finalist spot in 2020 for Best New Restaurant.
- Suntaranon was also named "Chef of the Year" by the Inquirer's Craig LaBan in 2019.
Axios asked Suntaranon a series of questions for our culinary advice series, Chef's Table:
🔪 Must-have tool in your home kitchen?: Good knives.
- I've been having knives custom made by Steve Pellegrino of Pellegrino Cutlery because I want to support a young artisan, and you need a proper, quality knife in the kitchen.
🛒 Go-to grocery store?: For neighborhood grocery, I go to Essene Market & Cafe.
- If I need a butcher, I go to see Joe at Esposito Meats in the Italian Market.
🤔 Most overlooked spice?: White pepper and ground pepper. People do not put enough pepper in their food.
🍜 Favorite home-cooked meal?: A big bowl of Korean instant noodles is so very comforting to me.
- Whatever Jesse Ito (James Beard-award nominated chef and co-owner) makes, I love.
☝🏼 Quick tip for at-home cooks?: Cooking is not rocket science. You just have to do it. Follow your instincts, follow your own cooking style, and not overthink it.
🔌 How to unplug?: I like to lay around and cuddle with my dog Tong and watch TV with my husband at home after a long day of work.
1 tip to go: Check out Kalaya Thai Market in the Italian Market, where you can buy curries, chili peppers and other ingredients to make versions of Suntaranon's dishes at home — or you can just buy a meal kit!
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