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Richmond restaurant owner to inspire female chefs at regional event

There is still a large gender gap in the culinary industry in B.C.
Nutcha Phanthoupheng, a long-time nurse in Thailand and mother of two, founded Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine in Steveston in 2021.

A Richmond chef and restaurant owner will showcase her food at Yes Shef, a B.C.-wide event, to put the spotlight on leading female chefs in the province and inspire other women in the industry or those about to enter it.

Nutcha Phanthoupheng, a long-time nurse in Thailand and mother of two, decided to pursue her dream of becoming a professional chef after moving to Vancouver in 2014. After studying from the country’s best chefs in Thailand, she founded the high-end Thai restaurant Baan Lao in Steveston in 2021.

“A lot of male chefs said it’s impossible because I had no experience, nothing,” said Phanthoupheng.

But, in her heart, she felt she could succeed as a chef.

“I cooked with my mom when I was young - cooking is in my soul, in my hands. Why not? I told everyone I can do it,” she added.

The restaurant was named one of Canada’s 50 best new restaurants and Canada’s 100 best restaurants in 2022 by Canada’

Phanthoupheng has also been voted Best Chef in Vancouver for three consecutive years in the Golden Plates awards.

By attending and showcasing her cuisine at the Yes Shef event, she can show the power of female chefs and inspire other women who are passionate about cooking to enter the industry.

“I really want to help more women in the industry, providing training or mentorship, and attending events that support women,” said Phanthoupheng.

There is still a wide gender gap in the traditionally male-dominated industry. According to the WORTH Association (for Women of Recreation, Tourism & Hospitality), in 2022, the ratio of male to female chefs was three to one in B.C. and four to one in Canada.

Yes Shef, hosted by WORTH Association, will take place on Nov. 6 at Fairmont Pacific Rim and feature food and drinks from 15 leading female chefs and beverage professionals in B.C.

Phanthoupheng is the only Richmond chef participating in the event.

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