Meet Chef Nutcha Phanthoupheng

Proprietor & Executive Chef

Born in the countryside  region of Isaan in Thailand, Nutcha Phanthoupheng was raised living the true ‘farm to table’ experience, growing rice, vegetables and fruit, and raising buffalo, pigs and chickens. As a child, she learned to fish, and how to forage for mushrooms, wild honey, insects and lizards. Each night, meals were cooked together as a family, using the fresh, natural, organic ingredients that she had collected. It’s here that her love of traditional Thai food was born – at her mother’s elbow, where Nutcha assumed the role of ‘sous chef’.

Nutcha pursued her BSc at Khon Kaen, becoming a registered nurse. As a nurse, she quickly recognized the impact of contaminated food and improper food storage for those without access to refrigeration, and for others, the insidious health risks rising from the use of preservatives and pesticides. Committed to learning more about the impact of food on our health, she obtained her MBA and became a cancer researcher at Princess Chulaborn Hospital.

Upon moving to Vancouver in 2014, she longed for the taste of the authentic Thai food she grew up with, and sought a way to express both her love of traditional Thai cooking and her creative side. Encouraged by her husband, she began pursuing her passion to become a professional chef.

Nutcha Phanthoupheng returned to Thailand, taking private cooking courses with Chef Chumpol Jangprai, the Iron Chef of Thailand and the only two Michelin star Thai chef in the world. She continued her training under Chef Vichit Mukura, who served the Thai Royal family, and now has his own restaurant that is celebrated with a coveted Michelin star.

Relishing the creativity that food preparation provides, she was tutored by the top food plating artist and stylist in Thailand, and took private sessions learning how to make Italian gelato and ice cream. 

In addition to her extensive private lessons, Nutcha obtained her Thai Cuisine diploma from The Blue Elephant in Bangkok, certification from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Bangkok Cooking School, and her carving certificate from Bussaracum Royal Thai Cuisine.

Her commitment to farm and field to table ingredients, life-long immersion in traditional Thai cuisine, and exceptional training under some of the best Thai chefs in the world guarantees each guest a mouth-watering meal that will please your eyes, nose and palate.

Chef Nutcha Phanthoupheng opened Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine in Steveston, British Columbia in February 2021, and in two short years has racked up an impressive roster of awards.

On the national stage, Baan Lao was named one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants in addition to landing on Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants list in 2022.

Baan Lao was also recognized with the Thai Select Signature certification, the most prestigious designation awarded by the Ministry of Commerce for the Royal Thai Government.

In November 2022, Chef Nutcha Phanthoupheng became the first Thai chef in Canada to be named Maître Rôtisseur with La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.

Locally, she has been voted Best Chef in Vancouver for three consecutive years in the Golden Plates awards, and Baan Lao landed six awards each year, including Best Restaurant Overall, Best Fine Dining, Best Hidden Gem, Most Romantic, and Best Thai.