Meet the Chanta family

Written by daughter Palisa

NameAmy and Palisa Chanta
Restaurant/sChat Thai, Boon Cafe

In the words of daughter Palisa...

What do you think instigated your family’s love of food?

We have Thai culture to thank for that. A very normal greeting at any time of the day is “Kin khao yung?” which literally translates to “Have you eaten (rice) yet?”. Also, for my mum, Amy, food was an integral part of her upbringing with her nursemaid and house cook in Thailand. She was exposed to very rustic regional Thai food and also Thai-Chinese cooking, which has informed the way she likes to cook and eat to this day. I’ve been the beneficiary of this, tagging along to markets and restaurants during my childhood in Thailand and Sydney (anywhere there was fresh produce and food!). My brother Pat and I grew up in mum’s restaurants, learning to work each station on the weekends and school holidays.

What did you each grow up eating?

The way mum tells it, her favourite thing was to sneak into the kitchen the day after any big feast or dinner party and Assamm (the Chinese title for House Cook) would throw together all the leftovers in a large pot and cook it down with ginger, garlic and soy. Thus, I grew up also eating a version of this! But my favourite dish that my mum made growing up was a very comforting chicken soup, with preserved lemons, bone broth and shiitake mushrooms, which I make for my kids now when they get sick.

How would you describe your individual approaches to cooking?

Because we work constantly, we tend to cook very simple food at home. My mum has her favourite Thai staples, like fried fish with chilli and garlic sauce, whereas I try my hand at anything. I love making pasta and using other culinary ingredients which are not familiar to me.

We become more elaborate when we’re at the farm and we’re entertaining, that’s then we pull it all out and put on a spread. It’s so much fun when we cook together.

What does a typical family dinner look like at your place?

Everyone always requests our green curry with fermented noodles, it’s our crowd pleaser. To start there’s usually grilled or fried fish, and some sort of nahm prik (chilli relish). Lately its been grilled oyster mushrooms done in a mortar and pestle with grilled shallots, garlic, lots of chillies, and with all the herb and vegetable accompaniments. And to finish always lots of fresh tropical fruit.

What can people expect from Monday Night Dinners in Melbourne?

Considering it will be early Autumn, there will be lots of exotic herbs and curcubits to eat with the nahm prik. We’re loving our fermented pork sausages that we make with a lot of aromatic herbs at the moment too, so that will make an appearance I’m sure. And of course, there will be curry with fermented noodles.

The Chanta family will be cooking some treasured family recipes together at Monday Family Dinner.