A native of southern Thailand, Nongkran Daks’ introduction to cooking began at age seven getting up at 4:00 am daily to pound curry past. Later, as a college student in Bangkok, Nongkran waited tables at a restaurant with the unlikely name “Dairy Queen”, while she earned a degree in agricultural economics. Subsequently, as the spouse of a diplomat, she used her husband and two children as willing guinea pigs for hundreds of dishes acquired during the Daks’ family travels.
Before launching the Thai Basil, Nongkran taught cooking and catered in Honolulu, Washington D.C., China, Laos, Taiwan and Thailand. She also ran a snack bar in Bangkok featuring Asian and Western dishes and a mean cheesecake.
Multi-cultural and multi-lingual, Nongkran is a member of the culinary society, Les Dames d’Escoffier. Her cookbook, “The secrets of Thai Cooking,” was self-published in 1994. Subsequently, Nongkran and Alexandria Greeley co-authored a Vietnamese and two Thai cookbooks published by Periplus. Currently, she is working on a new, expanded cookbook.
At the Thai Basil, Nongkran seeks maximum authenticity. She also offers cooking classes, catering and frequently lectures and conducts demonstrations on Thai cuisine.
Nongkran’s food has received favorable reviews and media coverage in the New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, Washingtonian magazine, the Zagat and AOL and Gayot guides and local newspapers. In 2007 and 2001, Thai Basil earned the Thai Select award under the Government of Thailand’s restaurant certification program.
In 2009 Nongkran was featured in a Pad Thai noodle competition with Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay on his Food Network program Throwdown!. Subsequently, she filmed a cooking segment in Bangkok with Samantha Brown, part of an hour long show about Thailand which first aired on the Travel Channel in August 2010.
Three of Nongkran’s cookbooks, “Thai Soups and Salads” and “Thai Noodles and Snacks” and “Homestyle Vietnamese Cooking” are available for purchase at the restaurant or by mail.