Never forget your roots. It’s an old adage that Saiphin Moore, the Thai chef and entrepreneur behind Rosa’s Thai Cafe, has taken to heart. Saiphin’s life journey is inspiring. A journey that has taken her from rural Thailand to the East End of London. As a young girl growing up in Phetchabun in rural Thailand, she helped out on the family farm and learnt her cooking skills from her mother. Her dream was to own her own restaurant. By the time she was 16, Saiphin had already opened her first noodle shop at her parents’ home. The entrepreneur subsequently moved to Hong Kong and it was there, in 2001, where Saiphin met Alex, the British man who would become her husband and business partner. The couple moved to London in 2006 and a year later they opened a simple market stall in Brick Lane. The success of that stall encouraged them to set up a Thai restaurant on the site of a former greasy spoon in London’s East End. Rosa’s Thai Cafe was born.
Since that first restaurant was established, Rosa’s Thai Cafe has blossomed into a successful chain of restaurants with locations in Liverpool and Leeds in addition to those in London. Saiphin has also written two cookbooks: Rosa’s Thai Cafe, and The Vegetarian Cookbook. It’s been an incredible journey from those days on the mountain farm in Phetchabun. But Saiphin hasn’t forgotten her roots and the part family and food has played on that journey. Earlier this year, Saiphin hosted ’Rosa’s Road Trip’ in Thailand which included a return to the family farm in Phetchabun, a location which has been pivotal to her success and which continues to inspire the menu at Rosa’s Thai Cafe.
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Dining in Thailand is a five-sense experience. Looks delicious @eastlondonmornings who recently spent time discovering Thailand’s organic farms, remote villages in the province of Phetchabun and much more on the #RosasRoadTrip .Like this photo if you love Thai food as much as we do!
My life in Thailand was entirely supported by the vegetables we grew on our farm and the local fish and meat from my grandparents’ grocery store
– Saiphin Moore
Supporting local producers
‘Phetchabun’ derives from a name which means “the land of crops and food” and it’s an apt description for this fertile province located in the lower north of Thailand. Saiphin’s family still live and work on the farm she grew up on in the mountainous Khao Kho district of Phetchabun. Following the same ethos of the family farm at Khao Kho, Saiphin and Alex have been keen to reduce their own impact on the environment by using sustainable suppliers and practices. Rosa’s Thai Cafe are a proud member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association and support local producers in the UK and Thailand.
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This is what we mean when we say ‘Kaffir Lime’! The leaves are commonly used in spicy soups like ‘Tom Yum’ or added to curries like ‘Gaeng Kiew Wan’ (green curry). The fruit peel is added to curry pastes. The meat and juice can be bitter so aren’t really used in cooking but they are excellent as hair and scalp treatment. (We found this HUGE tree at a farm in Khao Kho, Petchaboon. There were enough leaves for a 1,000 Tom Yums!) . . . @fanclubthailand x #RosasRoadTrip
Some ingredients are sourced direct from independent Thai farmers who supply the restaurant chain with a number of key ingredients including jasmine rice, tamarind paste, coconut milk and fish sauce. If you’ve ever tasted one of Rosa’s delicious curries or a Pad Thai, you would have been sampling traditional Thailand with every mouthful. That’s because Rosa’s uses coconut sugar instead of the more common palm sugar in a number of recipes. And that coconut sugar comes from a small family run co-operative in Phetchaburi (to the south-west of Bangkok) which continues to use traditional harvest methods.
When Rosa’s was first established, Saiphin and Alex had a simple philosophy; to treat Rosa’s as family. And if their family is happy, everybody is happy. We’ll raise a glass to that.
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