For me, food is art … the colours, smells, tastes and textures … it makes me feel free!
Waraphon Phunsuwan (or Wadee, as her clients have come to know her) is finally living her dream… cooking up exquisite Thai dishes in her quaint restaurant in Hartbeespoort. Here you will find the real deal… Thai food as you taste in Thailand. “To me food is like painting. You mix the colours, the textures and create something beautiful and makes you happy. Food is my art, I cook with my heart and it makes me happy.” Waraphon opened the doors of Wadee Thai Cuisine only recently at her Thai Wellness Spa in Schoemansville. She is well-known in Hartbeespoort for her healing Thai massages, but few people know she is a trained Thai chef. While practicing as a masseur, the kitchen kept calling and she finally succumbed. “I have always loved cooking. After I finished school in Thailand, I studied education, but after six months of teaching, I left and began working in a small hotel kitchen. I worked my way up into a five-star hotel kitchen. Then my aunt met her husband and they moved to South Africa. She was opening a Thai restaurant and wanted me to work for her. I came for a year to learn English and then returned to Thailand to get my culinary qualifications. I finally moved here in 2003 and worked with my aunt in her restaurants in Pretoria.” She met her husband in 2008 and veered off the culinary path. “I trained as a Thai masseur and when we moved to Hartbeespoort in 2018, I opened the wellness spa. I am still amazed that I ended up here. I remember how I used to drive to Hartbeespoort while living in Pretoria and the stress got too much. I would park next to the dam and look at the water, the mountains and the trees for hours. It gave me energy and I could go back to the city.” Eating at her small restaurant, is a taste sensation from start to finish. The unique blend of tastes is something to experience. “I cook Thai food the traditional way. There is a little secret to every dish. Even the way you roast chillies, matter.” She sources her ingredients carefully, and some are imported. I am passionate about cooking and food and everything has to be just right. You have to experience the flavour, the texture and the beauty of the food.” The restaurant complements the wellness spa, she believes. “I love helping people relieve pain and then make them happy with food. It is good for the soul,” she says. She serves traditional Thai dishes of central Thailand, but will introduce more flavours with time. “I first have to introduce my customers to the basic Thai dishes and then expose them to more. Each province in Thailand eats differently and I want to serve all these dishes eventually. If one is a painter, you don’t paint the same painting over and over, you paint different one every time. This is what I want to do.” She invites the community to come and taste Thailand at Wadee Thai Cuisine. “I believe my food is the best. And the proof is the empty dishes without a morsel food when it comes back to the kitchen. This tells me that my food is enjoyed, and that makes me proud and extremely happy!” Contact the restaurant at 082 612 0898.