Chicago chef Patty Neumson grew up in Thailand. She recalled helping a fisherman there push a boat ashore in exchange for a few fish, which were barbecued on the beach.
“After we’re finished eating, what do we do?” Neumson said. “We jump into the ocean and we go swimming.”
Neumson said she learned to cook by watching her mother make dishes like steamed mussels — a dish she still loves to make with galangal and spicy-garlic chili sauce.
Neumson went on to work in her grandmother’s restaurant before immigrating to the United States more than 20 years ago.
She opened four restaurants before working in finance for seven years.
In 2014, she returned to the culinary world and opened Herb, an upscale Thai restaurant in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. Neumson said she hopes to spark a healthy food revolution..
“I can make the food healthy, delicious and have a health benefit at the same time,” she said. “When people eat healthy food, the body changes. When we’re healthier, everything else in life is much easier. Maybe I cannot change the whole world, but one person at a time, one day at a time. This is what I can do.”
This article has been updated to clarify that Chef Neumson did not leave the food industry to work in finance.