I’ve been following Hot Thai Kitchen on YouTube and Instagram for at least the last 7-8 years. Before I “met” Pai on Hot Thai Kitchen, I used to think that Thai food was really complex and too complicated to cook at home despite the fact that I really love it. But when I started watching her YouTube videos, I realized pretty quickly that Thai food was just as approachable as Chinese or Vietnamese cooking, and they actually all have quite a lot in common in terms of methods and techniques. There are certainly differences with certain ingredients and the amount of certain ingredients (ahem, chilies!), but they all share a lot in common. So if I could make Chinese or Vietnamese food easily, I could likely do the same for Thai food.
I especially watched a lot of Pai’s videos during the height of the pandemic. I watched carefully when she discussed technique. She’s the main reason I even own a mortar and pestle, as I always thought about buying one before, but she convinced me that I really DID need to own one. So when I found out she was coming to New York, I thought about going… and of course, Chris pushed me to go. He even bought my ticket for the dinner event she hosted this past Wednesday at Som Tum Der, a northern Thai restaurant down in Alphabet City.
The event was far more packed than I imagined — there were likely over 100 people there, and all were huge fans of hers. Some had traveled all the way from D.C., Virginia, and Philadelphia just to have 90 minutes with her. I got to talk to her for maybe 2-3 minutes, and while time was tight and it did feel rushed, I was happy I went and got to see her in person. She’s just as sweet and friendly in person as she is in her videos – definitely authentic to her brand. I loved how she talked during the main discussion about how her two brothers were the real reason Hot Thai Kitchen even came into existence, and that if it weren’t for her younger brother pushing her (and even naming the channel) back in YouTube’s infancy days, HTK likely would not exist today.
Pai is definitely an inspiration. And I also loved chatting with her fans in person, as they are all people who clearly love food, especially Thai food, and actually cook! I need more friends who cook and are passionate about cooking!