Meet Our Food Ops Manager: Ratchaneekorn Klarkhaeng
Nicknamed “Toonie”; Cartoon is the only Thai in the company to have worked her way up from the Front of House. Today, she is at the heart of our authentic Thai cooking. As a waitress, then through the Koh Academy. As a Trainee Assistant Manager and then Assistant Manager before being transferred into Chef Operations.
Toon is a City girl, moving over from Bangkok in 2009 after a degree in Hotel Management. “Same, same, but different” as the colloquial Thai phrase goes; the perfect summary of life in Bangkok. A place where the familiar ways of the West contrast with the exotic traditions of the East. All in an explosion of flavours and colour. Much like our carefully crafted menu.
Toon’s interest was spiked in a move to the UK after her mother invited Toon to join her as a chef in a UK Thai restaurant. Little did she know how far this career change would take her. Toon has now been with us in the UK for 13 years! Having previously worked in Milton Keynes and York, Toon has now been with the company since 2011, with an impressive record of six promotions in as many years. Toon is now leading the way for the new generation of Thai chefs coming through the company. And she is leading the way with some great momentum behind her.
Toon is known as the “Fixer”. (Which, might we add, isn’t quite as sinister a role as the well-known TV series would imply.) Sony & Toon are there for every chef’s kitchen or personal emergency. You will see them at every Koh event. They are totally loyal to the Koh family and we love them both for their fantastic work! When asked about her affinity to the brand, Toon described her love for “the seamless integration between Thai, British and European staff”.
“I love the fusion of our authentic Thai food with a service model that seems meant to be. I continue to experience the different cultures across the company and that always excites me”.
Our family ethos at Koh continues through our “Kitchen” community and that extends across all of our sites and outside of work. On days-off, the chefs still remain in their close circles, whether that’s a trip out for lunch, dinner or a week away to explore Europe. Most recently, we have seen trips to France, Italy and Malta, amongst others.
Despite her love for the Europe, our Toonie regularly returns to visit her family back in Bangkok, at home in the variety of their bustling culture. That’s what she loves about Bangkok – whether that’s wandering the big shopping malls, or sampling the incredible authentic Thai street food. Sunning in open parks or visiting palaces and temples that stand in disparity next to the domineering, ‘new world’ skyscrapers. But topping it all, is relaxing on Thailand’s breath-taking southern beaches. A place of total tranquillity and a special part of Toon’s heart.
Back in the kitchen, if you are looking for a dish recommendation, Toon is a great person to ask as she knows the menu inside-out! Her favourite dish is the Jungle Curry, because of its ferocious spice and good nutritional value. – Low on calories but packed with authentic Thai herbs! If you can overcome the spice, you’ll taste notes of lemongrass, galangal and basil. Toon’s favourite Thai dish outside of Koh would be a mince pork and basil stir fry with (as with everything) a fried egg! Its spicy, tasty and easy to make – so perhaps we’ll need to re-evaluate our current pork and basil stir fry – who knows!
“Toon is one of the only Thai nationals in the company to be able to make the move from the kitchen to management and then back again. Toonie has a unique understanding of both sides of the operations of a restaurant. She is an invaluable fixer in so many different situations. With a passion for different cultures and insatiable appetite to learn and teach Toon really is a great member of the team” Andy, CEO