Chef Food & Wine

Pim Techamuanvivit, from Self-taught to Michelin-starred Chef with 3 Restaurants Across 2 Continents.

Alessandra Meldolesi
copertina Pim Techamuanvivit

A Complete Self-taught Chef, Pim Techamuanvivit now boasts 3 restaurants and 2 Michelin stars spanning California and Thailand. Her secrets? Routine, Cross-pollination, and Teamwork.


The Story

It all happened unexpectedly. In the early 2000s, Pim Techamuanvivit was successfully working in Silicon Valley when she asked herself, "What do I want to do when I grow up?" The initial answer was "a food blogger" and she pursued it brilliantly, even establishing a successful business selling jams made from Californian fruits. However, she looked around and saw Thai restaurants that didn't do justice to the cuisine. In 2014, she opened Kin Khao in San Francisco, a place she describes as "lively, intimate, and fun."

Pim Techamuanvivit Aubrie Pick
@Aubrie Pick

At that time, Pim was a perfect yet somewhat daring self-taught cook. "The best thing I did before opening [the restaurant] was to sit down and write down everything I didn't know how to do." She wanted the kitchen to be exclusively hers, though she sought advice and collaboration in other areas. The Michelin star came shortly after, in 2015, completely unexpected. This recognition led to an irresistible offer: to lead a second restaurant named Nari at the Kabuki hotel in San Francisco, this time in a comfortable and elegant setting. And then the opportunity to oversee the Michelin-starred Nahm in Bangkok, offered by the Como group. "My mother lives there, how could I say no?"

nari restaurant
Nari Restaurant
Pim Techamuanvivit piatto

The early months of 2018 were a continuous back-and-forth journey, but then the pandemic disrupted all travel. Luckily, her team was already independent. "Routine is crucial to maintaining the pace. When I travel, I always take the same flight. The first day in Bangkok is always spent at the market." This happens about 4 times a year, with stays of 3 to 4 weeks. While in San Francisco, she divides her time between her two restaurants, tasting the full menus whenever possible, to make adjustments. "If I don't have meetings, I spend the second half of the lunch shift checking on people, both employees and guests, to make sure everything runs smoothly. Much of the staff has been with me since the beginning," she says.

Pim Techamuanvivit Liz Hafalia The Chronicle
@Liz Hafalia

"I plan out based on priorities. I strongly believe in cross-pollination, so I can bring my Chef or my F&B manager from Nari to Nahm and vice versa. They all talk to each other. During the covid, there was a moment when I thought this life between two continents would be difficult, but when I picked it up again, I remembered how enjoyable it could be."


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