Chef Nath was born in Cambodia of Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese descent. While she grew up surrounded by Khmer (ethnic Cambodian) cooking, her Thai great grandmother had been a restaurateur, and her Vietnamese grandmother cooked for festivals in Buddhist temples.
Cambodian eldest children are expected to be professionals, so to avoid the risks of physical labor and to create opportunities for their families. Though Nath wanted to cook when she was young, she set that desire aside to pursue a degree in child psychology and an elementary teaching post at her father’s school.
One day in the market, when she was a young professional, Nath met a chef who had served in the royal palace before the Khmer Rouge regime. Nearly blind, “Auntie" mistook Nath for her long-lost, and sole-surviving daughter. Auntie wanted to teach Nath to cook, but she had lost her childhood interest in cooking. After Nath married, however, she wanted her husband to eat better than he had as a single man, so she sought out Auntie’s instruction. Before Nath left Cambodia, Auntie taught her to make her first curry, and her education continued during regular trips back to her homeland.
Auntie was an exacting tutor. When Chef Nath moved to Crestone, Colorado in 1999, she began cooking for private parties, special events, and festivals in Colorado and New Mexico, including the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. She has won multiple awards at the annual Santa Fe Souper Bowl: her Tom Yum was named Best Seafood Soup in 2014 and again in 2016. Her Thai-Khmer Chicken Coconut soup won the overall award in 2017. She began cooking Thai-Khmer fusion cuisine at Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen one night a week. Thai Night became so popular that, three years later, it was Thai Night four nights a week. Now she is eager to bring her inspired Khmer cuisine directly into the homes of New Mexico and Colorado.
Asked why she loves to cook, Chef Nath answers, "I love to see people healthy. When they finish their food, I feel like I have added merit to their lives.”