Q&A Natalie Tangsakul

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Natalie Tangsakul, chef and restaurateur

The cookbook that has most influenced your cooking?

I read old Thai cookbooks in Thai for fun. It takes me back to traditional and more elaborate cooking which I dream of having the time to do. The ability to leisurely cook and make my own coconut milk from scratch is just pure extravagance.

In general, I love Ottolenghi, Alison Roman, Sabrina Gayour, David Chang and so many more. Kaukasis by Olia Hercules is super amazing. It really shows how the same produce translates in different culture. Fascinating!    

The food of love: what would you cook to impress a potential date? And what piece of music would accompany it?

I would learn to cook something from his culture. I once tried to cook Borscht (Russian beetroot soup) from watching Youtube on the evening before my date. I had a rough idea on how to make it but the actual learning was pretty last minute! It went well thankfully; we are still together!

Music wise, I love Café del Mar or Ibiza lounge music. Something chilled and fashionable.

The perfect dinner party: which five people would you invite to dinner and what would you cook for them?

Ooh that’s a tricky one. I would love to have Amelia Earhart, Cher, Nelson Mandela, Bear Grylls and Mick Jagger. Meal wise, it is probably a mixture of some lavish Asian dishes like Yunnan style pickled cabbage and Chinese sausage stir fry, Gaeng Om braised oxtail, grilled turmeric lobster with lots of fresh chillies, charred cabbage with coconut fermented soy Lhon sauce.

Fast food –  your top snack tip?

I would dip my crisps, nachos, toasts with Lanna Bolognese. It is this tomato and pork with lemongrass and chillies. Lots of fragrant and so tasty.

Most memorable meal in film/literature/painting?

I think probably Babette’s feast. I love how Babette put so much love, effort and care into this one meal that she splurge out on for the whole village that was so dull and lifeless. And the gorgeous produce she lovingly chose…such a feast!

Your worst kitchen disaster?

I was on a lardo station. I sweated a lot of pork skin to make pork fat to stir fry with rice so it is rich and really aromatic. I had to vac pac each portion to freeze using the vacuum seal machine. Then I took my eyes off it for a few seconds and the bag filled with pork face exploded on me and the machine. That was fun!

 What’s the best thing to do with a passion fruit?

We made brownies with passion fruit coulis and will be offering it at the shop. I love how the freshness and tartness from the fruit cut through all that chocolate, butter and sugar. I also love using it with porridge for a nice touch of tropical. Back home, we make it into smoothies and macaroon. There is a lot of play with tropical ingredients in our pastries and desserts.

 What would you like your final meal to be?

Lots of papaya salads, Tum Sua version would be great. This is the one with fermented rice noodles, plara (fermented fish sauce) and lots of chillies. Nam Prik Ong or Lanna Bolognese is just my vice. I can gorge on it   

What is your secret talent [in or out of the kitchen]?

I’m always hungry….is that a talent? Hahaha

 What did you eat for breakfast?

Smoothies of kale, bananas, Ashwaganda and turmeric. I am a big fan of Ayurvedic and traditional medicine. So my day usually starts with something that sets my energy at its optimum level.

What’s in your fridge?

Way too many things from the restaurant. Lots of different salads and veg dishes we are testing for the daily changing lunch deli. Charred butternut with lemon and fish sauce vinaigrette. Mushroom Northern Larb with shallots, corn salad. 

Your inheritance recipes – the one you inherited and the one you’d like to pass on to your children?

Way too many that I inherited to be honest. As soon as I tell people, I’m opening a restaurant in London. All the friends, family and acquaintances are giving me recipes from their family. It is really funny. I love how people around me really rally their support and want to share their heritage in a place faraway.

It is very hard to choose which recipes to pass on as most of them are unique to each house and different palette. I say the Nam Pla Warn which means sweet fish sauce that is an accompaniment to sour mango or any sour fruits. The dip is a slow-cooked calm sugar, shrimp paste with lemongrass and numerous other recipes. It is a snack that you have on a balmy summer day. I’m a big fan of matching sour with sweet and salty. 



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