My intention in visiting Passorn Thai, one of Edinburgh’s newest Thai Restuarants, was to interview the owner Cindy Sirapassorn and to have a light lunch with an old and dear friend whose suggestion it was that I interviewed Cindy.
I am not a foody and not prone to superlatives but I can say without any shadow of a doubt that the meal I enjoyed on that cold, grey Monday in Edinburgh was the best Thai food I have ever tasted! I will be going back there to eat as soon as I can and if you are in Edinburgh I urge you to do the same!
Before coming to the UK in 2003, Cindy graduated from university in Bangkok and worked in PR for large organisations.
On coming to the UK the opportunities to continue to work in this area were limited and so Cindy took a job as a waitress, quickly rising to become restaurant manager.
From here the story becomes familiar to most entrepreneurs; why work hard and make money for someone else when you can go into business and make a success for yourself.
“Four years ago I was working as a manager and I increased the turnover of the restaurant by 40%. I worked well with my boss, we worked well as a team but when a new manager came in I was made redundant, the only person in the organisation that this happened to, despite my success in my job, and I didn’t think the fact that I was a woman was a coincidence. Rather than seek a new managers post in a different restaurant I decided that I would rather be my own boss. I knew that if I could be successful for someone else then I could be successful for myself.”
“First of all I started by taking Thai style food and service into peoples home. It gave me the confidence to know that I could do it and I decided to look for restaurant premises.”
“The site that is now Passorn Thai had changed hands a few times in a short period and many people thought that it might not be the right place for me to start but I am ambitious and determined woman and I knew that if I did it properly that people would come. My ambition was to be the best Thai restaurant in Edinburgh and within just 6 months I had been recommended by The List. My challenge now is to retain that award.”
“To do that I must pay attention to every detail. First and foremost people must enjoy the food, they must get the very best service and they must enjoy the atmosphere.”
“I now have many regular customers and no longer think about awards and about comparing myself to other restaurants. I compare myself to myself! In this way I can be sure that I personally am always improving and that the restaurant is always getting better. I keep things fresh by always looking to make improvements. I constantly monitor the plates returning to the kitchen. If food is left we always ask the customer why, to make sure that we are always doing all we can to satisfy then. I keep my eye on what is happening in Thailand. While most of our food is from traditional family recipes; my father ran a 10,000 cover restaurant with 1,000 staff in Bangkok, I look out for new ideas and new recipes. I visit other restaurants, not only Thai, to monitor any changes in style and standards of service to make sure that we stay on the top.”
“It is very hard work; as a foreigner in a foreign land and as a woman. I hard to start from scratch. As English is not my first language some contractors try to take advantage but I am strong and determined. I work 6 days a week in the restaurant from 10am to the early hours of the morning. I oversee every aspect of the kitchen as executive chef. There is a chef with two assistants and three front of house staff. I need to be there to be sure that everything is done perfectly all of the time.”
“Our success is based on the fact that we serve real Thai food. The chef is from Thailand and it is Thai owned and managed. I think that it important that if people visit a Thai restaurant to enjoy Thai food and service that it should be prepared and served in the Thai way by Thai people. With entry into the UK becoming more and more difficult it is unlikely that I will be able to bring in another chef in order to open another restaurant or to move to bigger premises.”
“I would like to grow by getting my genuine Thai food into supermarkets.”
Clearly this is a very tall order but I wouldn’t put it past Cindy!
So if you want to experience angelic Thai dining – the most exquisite food and faultless service, visit Thai Passorn while you can, before Cindy becomes a retailing superstar!