Chef Chuck K.M. Pinthanon
Chef Chuck K.M. Pinthanon
Sam Phao Thai Cuisine
1019 King Street
Alexandria, VA. 22314
Born as the eldest son of a large family in Thailand, I often had the responsibility to care for my brothers and sisters. I also wanted to be a good role model for them. I graduated with a master’s degree in political science from Thammasat University. Shortly thereafter, with much political unrest in Thailand, I decided to move to the United States.
In 1970, I began my first business venture, Thai Taste, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Although it was an unsuccessful business, I learned a great deal from my failures such as the popularity of certain dishes, and others that needed a slight adjustment to fit my new adoptive homeland’s taste. From there, I moved to Norfolk, Virginia and began working as a chef at Bangkok Garden. Here the locals granted me my nickname “Chuck” due to my love of chuckling at any given moment.
From Norfolk, I moved to DC and began working in Asia 9. The business was a bit more fast-paced, which allowed me to grow as a chef. Finally I settled at Sam Phao Thai Cuisine and have been happy doing what I love, and loving what I do for the past 5 years.
When did you become interested in pursing a culinary career?
Being the oldest sibling in a large family (20 brothers and sisters)! I learned at an early age to care for my family from my mother. Meal time would bring the family together, and this inspired me to help my mother prepare food for our family. The decision to become a chef was a simple one after devoting much of my young life cooking under my mother’s discerning eyes.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My mother. I wanted to take the skills my mom taught me and invite other families to enjoy meals together, much like my family growing up.
What dish on your menu are you most anxious to see how it is received by your diners?
Massaman curry. This dish is one of the most difficult to prepare, often taking up to a full day. King Rama II composed a poem during his 1809-1824 reign about his love for Massaman curry as well as the woman who prepared the curry for him. A famous proverb ensued:Saneh bplaay jawak phuaa rak john dtaay, loosely translated as “When a wife cooks good the husband will love her until end of life.”
What do you do to ensure that your ingredients are of high quality?
Most of the ingredients are shipped from Thailand from a trusted supplier of the highest quality. The owner supplies the freshest ingredients from the market to complete the dishes we serve.
If any chef in the world would prepare you dinner, who would you like it to be?
Mr. Thanadsri Svasti. He is a renowned food critic and chef from Thailand. His television show was one of my favorites growing up.
What is your guilty food pleasure?
Pineapple fried rice. This simple dish covers a wide gambit of tastes with the use of many ingredients.
Written by: Chester Simpson
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