A native of northeast Thailand, Chef Lalita Souksamlane said she discovered her passion for cooking at a very young age by helping her father in the kitchen.
Unlike traditional Thai families, her father did all of the cooking.
“He taught me how to cook and inspired my love for the art,” — as well as the idea to open her own restaurant someday, said Souksamlane.
The chef said she has kept many of her father’s original recipes alive in the dishes at her restaurants in San Francisco.
Today, two of her newest projects are now found in Napa Valley: Osha Thai, a restaurant on Main Street in Napa and Bann, a resort/inn on Oak Knoll Avenue.
1. What does Osha mean in Thai?
Osha means “delicious” in a royal way.
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2. What was your childhood ambition?
My dream has always been to own my own business and launch my own brand. I have achieved my dream with the Osha empire, and I am pleased to announce I will be launching my own skincare brand very soon (called Queen Glow).
3. What was your first job?
My first job was as a line cook at Thai restaurant in Los Angeles when I first arrived to America in 1995.
4. What job would you like to try/not try?
Try: Gardener. I have always enjoyed gardening and growing my own fruits and vegetables for the dishes I cook.
Not try: I am open to any job! I will try anything once!
5. What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a big challenge for us. I am very proud of my team for coming together to overcome this challenge. We have been able to stay afloat and emerge stronger than ever!
6. What’s on your to-do list?
We are planning a monumental remodel of our Embarcadero location. I’m very excited to showcase that to San Francisco!
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7. If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
I would like to change the perception that Thai food is street food. There is much more to it, and that's why I am showcasing royal-style Thai cuisine to California at Osha Napa.
8. Which three people would you most like to have dinner with?
Chef Thomas Keller, and my two favorite people in the world: my son and daughter.
9. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
I live a highly sustainable lifestyle. All of the food I eat is grown in my garden.
10. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
I would be in Florida visiting my son. He is in the military and is stationed out in Florida.
Info: 1142 Main St. Napa, 707-253-8880, oshathai.com
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