If you're passionate about cooking and new restaurants, you might know Dalad Kambhu - the head chef of contemporary Thai restaurant Kin Dee, in Berlin.
A self-trained cook, 2019 saw Dalad awarded her first Michelin star, making her one of only ten female chefs in Germany to share this honor.
Dalad was born in Austin, Texas, and raised in Bangkok in a foodie family. After leaving Thailand for New York, she began taking jobs as a model and working in local restaurants where she fell in love with the world of hospitality and gastronomy. Dalad’s New York chapter lasted through her twenties before she moved to Berlin to open her first restaurant with artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. ‘Kin Dee’ (meaning “eat well” in Thai) opened their doors in February 2017, serving contemporary Thai cuisine.
Speaking on how others tried to dissuade her from pursuing a career in food, their opinions only spurred her further - “That’s their opinion, not yours. Don't let other people decide for you. You decide for yourself what you want your future to look like”. Kambhu is quick to speak up about the difficulties of being a woman in the male dominated food industry, saying that “When we started Kin Dee I was leading an all-male team and it was pretty stressful, especially because I don’t like leading people by screaming and inciting fear.”
After being invited to give some talks about her profession at various events around Berlin, she was approached by other female chefs who had similar experiences, one of whom was getting increasing numbers of inappropriate comments from her male colleagues. “This is the reason we don’t have many women chefs as role models: the traditional, professional kitchen environment is not female-friendly”. She began to recruit women to come and work with her at Kin Dee, and since then, more and more women have joined the restaurant which now boasts an all-female team. “It’s so chill. There’s no stress, no freak outs, or testosterone. Now we’re all women again, it’s really fun.”
Dalad’s perspective is relaxed, she eschews white table cloths, her staff are encouraged to wear sneakers and engage with guests, and she herself wears Nike running leggings under her chef whites. She's the face of her own restaurant, and she can often be spotted serving food and talking to her diners.
Her food is evidence of her care. Dalad’s perception of beauty focuses on seasonal ingredients drawn directly from nature, prioritizing flavors and sustainable processes.
While the ingredients are all locally sourced, the core flavor will always be Thai.
“I work with local products because Thai food is about freshness. I don’t see the point of making papaya or mango salad when you have a fresh apple and kolrahbi here, so I’ll use those,” At Kin Dee, you’ll be rewarded with the highest grade of fish, meat and locally sourced seasonal vegetables, all prepared with Thai herbs, spices, pastes, and sauces. She also keeps a keen eye out for any sign of plant life nearby, she loves to forage in the forest to relax away from the demands of running a restaurant.
We shot Dalad at Son Rullan in Deia, where she stays when she visits the Island and her boyfriend. She wears the Phoenicia Linen Ren Jumpsuit and the Polka Silk Long Shirt Dress.