Chaophraya in Leeds

Everything you need to know about Chaophraya

Chaophraya is a fantastic Thai restaurant in Leeds with a big reputation. When you walk into through the door, you’re immediately welcomed with a grand scene which really sets it apart.

Found on Swinegate, Chaophraya celebrates everything Thai and executes all aspects of its service excellently. Chaophraya is always busy, which you would expect from a restaurant of its calibre and reputation. 

Who’s behind Chaophraya?

Chaophraya was founded by Kim Kaewkraikhot who started out running a street food stall in Bangkok. fast forward many years and she now has 11 critically renowned restaurants across the UK. 

Kim was born in Kirimat, in Northern Thailand to what she calls the poorest family in the village.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, Kim said: “We were so poor that when I went to school mum could only afford to send me with rice to eat, where other children had some meat.”

Chaophraya owner kim

After leaving school at the age of 8, she moved to Bankok when she was 13 and worked in a textile factory. 

“I’d get up at 3am to do the washing and then I would cook for the staff. All Thai girls learn to cook from a very early age, helping their mothers in the kitchen.

“I learnt to cook on charcoal as we had no other means of cooking.”

“All that time I had been watching them make clothes and then started making my own. I started off making shirts for men.”

She then chose to pursue her love of cooking, openning a noodle bar on the streets on Bangkok.

“I would be at the market at 5am to see what was fresh and then design my dish around that.”

Chaophraya's food

After some years, she was approached by an Englishman who heard about her noodle bar. However she had no idea where England was.

Thailand was very popular with Americans and Germans but not many English. “I asked a friend where England was and they said ‘England good’.”

It was there that she met Martin Stead, a Leeds Businessman who was so impressed with her food, he persuaded her to return to the UK with him to bring her own brand of authentic Thai cuisine to the UK.

It was after moving to the UK (after 3 failed attempts to get a Visa) that the first Chaophraya opened, and fast forward several years, the brand now has restaurants in 8 major cities in the UK and turns over £25 million a year.

Since developing one of the most successful brands in British Thai cuisine, Kim is a long way from her humble beginnings.

“Martin and I have built a new house for my mother,” says Kim. So rather than being the poorest family in the village we are now the richest. She has all mod cons in the house, but she refuses to cook on anything other than charcoal outside.”

Where is Chaoprhraya?

Chaophraya can be found at 20A Blayds Court, Swinegate, Leeds, LS1 4AG.

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