An Interview with Owner, Kullanit Nya, and Executive Chef, Steve Thibodeau.
Tell me about Thai Charm Eatery:
Executive Chef Thibodeau: “It is Kullanit’s Nya’s restaurant. We have expanded from Calgary to Airdrie, so we are not in competition with her sister’s restaurants. There are about 50,000 people in Airdrie, too, at the moment, so it is not a small town. Airdrie is the fastest growing community in Alberta.”
Kullanit Nya: “As a family, we have worked in the Thai restaurant business for a while now, over twelve years in fact, there are a total of six restaurants in Alberta, which includes four in Calgary, one in Cochrane, and the newest in Airdrie. At our restaurants, we use authentic Thai ingredients. We actually bring spices and some dried ingredients back from Thailand, which make our food authentic. We try very hard to make healthy foods and make them fresh! All of our sauces here are homemade from natural ingredients.
We have to do our own shopping usually, so most of our ingredients we source ourselves. We opened in September of last year. September 27, 2014 was our first day! We were inundated with a ton of customers. We even had a review by John Gilchrist, and then everyone wanted to try out our restaurant! We have also been in AirdrieLIFE magazine. We were recently voted one of the best new restaurants for 2014 by John Gilchrist!”
Kullanit Nya: “We use coriander, cumin seeds, and we ship dried cilantro root from Thailand. We also use turmeric, curry powders, and cardamom, which are also shipped from Thailand. Cumin is one of the spices we use, too, a lot. Thai cuisine uses lots of herbs, too, like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, ginger, and galangal“
She emphasizes, “Did you know lime leaves are very dominant in Thailand? They have a real natural lime taste, like lime zest without the bitterness. You can’t eat them whole. They are like the bay leaf, so you julienne them,” she suggests.
Executive Chef Thibodeau, “We make them fresh with fresh fruits like avocados, mangos, and coconuts – these are the only three flavours we have developed so far. We are working on more flavours and hope to have them completed in a month. You’ll never have us use powders!”
He continues, “For instance, the Avocado Smoothie Bubble Tea. It has fresh avocados and green tea in it with very little of condensed milk. We brew the green tea, and cool it. Then we mix it with avocados! As mentioned, we also add a touch of condensed milk to bring the sweetness into it.”
What about gluten-free options?
Executive Chef Thibodeau: “First and foremost, we don’t really use flour in anything. 95% of our menu is gluten free. We make all of our sauces homemade, so we know what is going into them. It makes it pretty easy to avoid gluten.”
Kullanit Nya explains, “As well, at our restaurant, everything is pretty much available as a vegetarian item, if needed.”
Kullanit Nya: “We have tons of vegetarians coming to Thai Charm Eatery. For each of the curries, we make a paste which is pure vegetarian ingredients and vegetarian broth, which means that there is no fish sauce, no shrimp paste–total vegan items are possible! We make each curry fresh to order, too. The same goes for all stir-fried, soup, and noodle dishes”
What about MSG in your food items?
Kullanit Nya: “You can order Pad Thai with no MSG, curry with no MSG, and soups, too. The only things that might contain MSG are the soy sauce, fish sauce, and oyster sauce, but for our own homemade sauces we don’t use it, or add it. You can order some items as MSG free, but please check with us when ordering.
She emphasizes, “Really, we are very lucky to make our sauces in-house. We go through our sauces so fast, we don’t need preservatives either; fresh sauces are incredible. We can taste the difference!”
Kullanit Nya responds, “Yes! We are going to be at the Food Show on July 5 at 1:00 p.m. at Stampede Marketplace in BMO Centre. Please come by and see us. We are still deciding on what to have, but have set our minds on Pad Thai noodles as a lot of people already know about that dish! We will do a stir-fry dish, and trying to decide between Cashews, Ginger, and Sweet and Sour. These dishes are very popular and healthy.”
She pauses, “Please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with us on twitter @thaicharmeatery, as we are open to suggestions! It’s pretty difficult to make a decision, as we have to take food allergies such as to nuts into consideration. The Pad Thai is for sure, though, as we will be serving a lot of people. We will have Gluten-Free Pad Thai at the Show. The Cashew dish can also be gluten free.”
Please click here to view Thai Charm Eatery’s healthy menu showcase!