International Womens Day

 

Here at Chaophraya we recognise this day as an incredible opportunity to shine the spotlight on the beating heart of our business - Kim Kaewkraikhot, our founder and very talented Executive Chef at Thai Leisure Group.

 

The 8th March 2021 marks the 110th International Women's Day. This year's theme is set by the IWD team is #ChooseToChallenge - the idea being that a challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change. 

Kim didn’t have the easiest of upbringings in Kirimart Village, Thailand. She lost her father and brother at a young age and had limited access to education, however she always had a passion for food and loved cooking at home with her mum.

“It was very different growing up in Thailand. Times were tough but I had a big family and we would always work together. We loved to go out fishing and cooked together as a family – I think deep down I always knew I wanted to work with food.”

At the age of just 15, Kim left her village for the bustling streets of Bangkok, where after setting up her own garment factory she went on to open her own small Pad Thai cart in 1993. Kim’s Bangkok Pad Thai recipe is still used at our restaurants today and is proudly one of our most loved dishes!

A few years later, Kim was working on her infamous cart when a group on Englishmen came to try to it out. Martin, her now partner and our co-founder, was visiting Thailand on holiday when he convinced his friends to try out the Pad Thai and he fell in love. In 1999, Kim moved to the UK where she started off working as a waitress and kitchen porter. In 2004 Martin and Kim started their journey of bringing their vision and dream to reality – opening their first restaurant Chaophraya in Leeds, Martin's home town.

Chaophraya chef and owner Kim
Chaophraya pad thai and green curry
Chaophraya owners Kim and Martin
There are now six Chaophraya restaurants across England and Scotland and eighteen sites under the Thai Leisure Groups umbrella, made up of four brands - Chaophraya, Thaikhun, YeeRah and ChaoBaby.

Kim is an extremely successful business woman but the raw passion she had when running her first street food stall still remains. You will regularly find Kim in our kitchens ensuring that each and every dish delivers a true taste of Thailand. To recreate these dishes, the majority of our chefs are Thai too so not only has Kim brought a flavour of Thailand to the UK, she has created hundreds of jobs nationwide.

Kim visits Thailand regularly to see family and to bring back innovative and traditional ideas to Chaophraya to ensure that we keep our position as the leading Thai restaurant group across the country. Kim and Martin both still love eating from the street food sellers in Bangkok when they visit Thailand.

“I try to go back once a year as my mum still lives over there so I like to spend as much time with her as I can. It’s great to go to all of the street vendors and new restaurants then go home and try out the dishes for my mum.”

We love that Kim cooks her recipes for her mum before bringing them over to the UK – another seal of approval!

“Martin and I always had a dream of owning our own restaurant and we are so lucky that this came true. I still pinch myself now, I can’t believe we have 20 restaurants across the UK. Follow your heart and trust your instinct, times can be challenging but it is always worth it.”

We’re so lucky to work with such an inspiration, admirable and entrepreneurial woman - thank you Kim!

Team Chaophraya