Patarita Tassanarapan

Patarita Tassanarapan, or KG, is a plant-based chef and interdisciplinary artist based in London. She aims to create social interaction and connect people back to the natural landscape where the food comes from.
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KG was a landscape architect in Bangkok before coming to London to study Spatial Performance and design. After discovering her combined practise of visual, sound and culinary art, she became a professional chef, currently cooking at the well-known restaurant Som-saa. Together with Nathan Phayu Brown she founded the Laam supper  club, to showcase authentic Thai flavours rarely found in the West, using the best seasonal British ingredients.

You're a professional chef and your journey to get there is very interesting. How and why did you begin to integrate food into your creative practice?

It started when I moved to London in 2019 to get a masters in fine arts. Unlike in Bangkok, living in London pushed me to cook more at home. I went to the independent grocery shop near my house at the time and was intrigued by unfamiliar vegetables of different colours and forms. My joy for cooking was ignited. Because I have a background in landscape architecture, I began to see the relationship between food and its landscape. Eating seasonally makes us realise what produce or indigenous plants are in the area. We then could strive for sustainable agriculture. Moreover, dining is a ritual that cultivates a sense of community. I experimented with using food in my thesis project, also integrating sound and visual art, to convey environmental and cultural narratives. As I made art, I gained more interest in cooking. After graduation, I made a big decision to shift my career to be a professional chef.

How do you see the connection between art and food?

Cooking is craftsmanship. It is a work of art to create a single dish. While cooking food, it is necessary to consider what flavours, textures, fragrances, and colours it will present. While plating food, it employs a similar mindset to graphic design. Food also delivers messages, stories, and histories. People can appreciate food individually or communally. A chef is an artist who executes the experience for those diners. If anything can be a tool for art, food is a simple intriguing medium that relates to everybody.

What is it about Thai food culture that is especially meaningful or important to you?

In Thai food culture, “home food” is very significant to me. I grew up in a small rural town up North where my mom cooked for the whole family every morning. On the table, there will be chilli relish with blanched vegetables, boiled eggs, fried eggs, stir-fried vegetables, soup or curry, another meat dish, and rice. We always have a big breakfast. It’s also the time that we sit down together and talk about what’s going on in life. Since I have been far away from home, I am trying to recreate that sense of ritual again, weaving people together over the dining table.

What does Thailand today mean to you?

Thailand will always be my home. It’s the place where I go back to rest, to regain peace, and to obtain inspiration. When I lived there, I did not fully appreciate how abundant food resources and culture were until I looked back from the outside. There is so much more for me to learn; the more I learn, the better I understand my roots. For my parents, it seemed silly for me to become interested in Thai cuisine and start cooking. But for me and many people of my generation, we see the value in Thai food and its precious heritage. We would like to inherit that and continue telling its story.

For more, you can visit KG's website here or follow her on IG here.