Part I: Kathy Freston, The Book of Veganish
Kathy Freston is a New York Times–bestselling author with a concentration on healthy living and conscious eating. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Ellen, The Dr. Oz Show, and The Martha Stewart Show, and in Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, and Self. Freston is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.
Part II: May Kaidee, Thai Vegan Cooking
Sommay Jaijong, known to everyone as May (sometimes pronounced Mai), dreamed of becoming a restaurant owner since the early age of 12. May is recognized in Thailand as a successful entrepreneur, owning vegetarian restaurants and cooking schools in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Her business name, May Kaidee, was christened after the meaning of her first name, indicating aptitude in business and marketing, and essentially translating to, “May sells well.” Indeed, as May continues to establish herself professionally, she invites relatives and friends from her hometown to work in her Bangkok restaurants, extending, as her aunt did, the opportunity to acquire a more comfortable or alternative life. Internationally, May has instructed Thai restaurant staff members throughout Europe and Asia and is frequently requested to lecture at retreats, health seminars, and annual food events worldwide. In Russia, May has tutored master chefs from five-star hotels in St. Petersburg, and is renowned in Moscow for her sensational Thai vegetarian cooking film, translated into Russian. Additionally, May has spent time in England sharing her culinary secrets and in Japan instructing health retreats on organic farms. By 2002, May Kaidee’s was chosen as a top restaurant by “Metro Magazine” in Sweden and nominated for the International Award for Tourist Hotel and Catering Industry by the Spanish magazine, “Mercado Mundial”. What’s more, May has made television appearances in Thailand, Germany, France, and China, and was personally selected by His Royal Highness Prince Phillippe of Belgium as the best chef in Thailand. At present, May’s ambition is to share with the world a bit of Thai culture, as well as her heavenly, health-restoring recipes for revitalizing mind, body, and spirit. While not looking after customers in Thailand, May spends time in New York City promoting her signature recipes. Find out more at https://www.maykaidee.com/
TRANSCRIPTION PART I:
Hello everybody. I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Thank you, thank you for being here today. I am here in the Progressive Radio Network Studio where I’m happy to be right now. It’s cool and comfortable and clear. I’m looking forward to later, when my second guest will be bringing me some food so that’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ll be sampling some tasty Thai food. I wanted to remind you about some big events coming up. I’ve mentioned it before on the program and the dates are coming up soon. So here’s your big reminder: The Engine Two people, that’s Rip Esselstyn and the whole Esselstyn crew, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Ann Esselstyn, Jane Esselstyn and Rip are teaming up with the Forks Over Knives people and they’re having some great events. There are three weekender events, one is in Dallas coming up very soon, on September 30th to October 2nd. There’s another one in Cleveland October 28th to the 30th and Pasadena on March 24th to March 26th. These are really wonderful opportunities where you get to eat great food. You get to hear very valuable information from all of these wonderful people who are so passionate about healthy, delicious plant eating. I got to deal for you because if you go to responsibleeatingandliving.com, that’s my website, responsibleeatingandliving.com… If you don’t want to type it out you really should get our free app which we’ve had for a long time now. It’s all there on the home page. I will give you $50 off on this weekender and the discount code is REAL50, so check that out. Then there’s the weeklong immersion—this is really wonderful—it’s in Sedona, a place I have never been and long to go. Dr. Klaper and Dr. Lisle will be there in addition to the Esselstyn team. The discount for you is REAL150. That’s $150 off that weekend long immersion. So if you were interested before, the time is getting soon for those events. Check it out.
Caryn Hartglass: Now, I am super, super delighted today for this program and for my first guest. Kathy Freston is a New York Times’ best selling author with a concentration on healthy living and conscious eating. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Ellen, The Dr. Oz Show, The Martha Stewart Show, and in Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, and Self. Freston is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. The book we’re going to be talking about today is The Book of Veganish, The Ultimate Guide to Easing into a Plant-Based Cruelty-Free, Awesomely Delicious Way to Eat, with 70 Easy Recipes Anyone can Make. Kathy, thank you, I’m delighted to have you join me on It’s All About Food today.
Kathy Freston: Thank you for having me, Caryn. I’m so happy to be here with you.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you. I’ve been following you for a long time. You are definitely one of our shining leaders and so positive, especially because of one thing that I’ve heard you say many times, is that none of us has to be perfect.
Kathy Freston: Correct. I could not be perfect if I tried and I think that trying to be perfect, like Voltaire famously said, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” Let’s just shoot for the better and better and continue to lean forward.
Caryn Hartglass: If we were perfect wouldn’t things be boring? There’d be nothing to do.
Kathy Freston: I agree. I agree and that disciplined approach just never works, does it?
Caryn Hartglass: No, so I’m glad you’re putting that out there, all the time and in many different ways. Now the first question I have for you, it’s kind of a grammar question—I’m into language—you’ve coined a few words. A while back you had a book that you used the word Veganist, Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World and now we’re talking about “veganish”. Now are these adverbs, adjectives? How do we use these words and what are the differences between the two?
Kathy Freston: Yeah, well, veganist was about my obsession—“ist”—means you’re just someone who wants to go farther and really become an expert just like an artist or a cellist or a pacifist. It’s someone who’s committed to a certain way of life. So this book, the Book of Veganish, is written for young adults and the young at heart. So that means millennials, people newly out of college, maybe still in college and they’re just getting exposed to these ideas of what it means to eat plant-based versus animal foods. This generation is not big on labels. They really don’t want to be called one thing or the other, whether it’s political persuasion or gender or whatever belief system, could be religious. They’re much more fluid and flexible. I think that fits right in to the whole…my philosophy has always been progress not perfection. I think it really works for this upcoming generation. Rather than call yourself something then box yourself in, it’s all about the “ish”. It’s all about the “ish”.
Caryn Hartglass: I like it, the “ish”. Maybe we’ll have a few knish with the “veganish”.
Kathy Freston: Exactly. I got to tell you, from my own experience, because I tend to be more relaxed about this stuff, I get a lot of pushback sometimes from activists.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, those angry activists.
Kathy Freston: Yeah, yeah. I think, maybe it’s the vegan police. I don’t know what you want to call them. I get it, people are super passionate. It’s a very emotional thing to suddenly discover what happens to animals and you want to just yell it from the rooftops and make everyone change overnight. I get that, but it doesn’t do any good. I know that when people push back at me, the hardcore activists, it made me want to shutdown. It made me want to just say, “Gosh, I can’t do anything then. So why bother?” I think that that’s the case in a lot of things. I think the idea of just chilling and exploring and making it fun and taking this journey at your own pace, one step at a time, we’re likely to have better success with ourselves as we make these changes, rather than being frustrated and then bouncing back to old ways.
Caryn Hartglass: That works for me. I always like to look towards the light, look towards the joy, look towards the things that feel good and help point people in that direction knowing that in the other direction may be dark and evil and terrible. We know it’s there but let’s go the other way.
Kathy Freston: I totally agree. I totally agree and I think it’s something that we’re more likely to have a success if we take it slowly, then the changes come comfortably. What if I just love the whole idea of being plant-based but I’m freaking addicted to cheese fries? The idea of giving up my cheese fries, it’s game over, I can’t do it. I would say, “Hey, move toward this way of eating and don’t worry if you enjoy your cheese fries every once in awhile.
Caryn Hartglass: And then discover vegan cheese fries.
Kathy Freston: Exactly. Then what happens is you feel so good eating this way otherwise that you do tend to push a little farther and explore a little bit more and then it’s a free choice rather than being shamed into it, shamed by yourself or shamed by activists.
Caryn Hartglass: We have too many opportunities for guilt and anxiety and shame and …
Kathy Freston: We have enough of that.
Caryn Hartglass: Enough!
Kathy Freston: Exactly, exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: I’ve been vegan almost 30 years…
Kathy Freston: Oh wow.
Caryn Hartglass: …and the best results I have always had is when I put healthy delicious vegan food in people’s mouths.
Kathy Freston: Isn’t that the truth?
Caryn Hartglass: That’s the biggest selling point. “Oh, I can eat this, this is good. Can you cook for me?”
Kathy Freston: Totally, totally. And you know what I think Caryn, that’s kind of what happens, is people are interested in it and then it’s like, “Ohhh, what am I going to eat?” It’s so primal. It’s so, like, “Oh my God you’re going to take food out of my mouth. I’m going to starve and I’m never going to be able to enjoy the traditions that I grew up loving.” I get that. It’s so much to think about and it’s such an emotional repulsion almost. So if you take that away and you just say, “No, this is going to be a fun exploration. You’re going to try some new things. You’re going to experiment with recipes, check out some restaurants, try a different entrée at your favorite restaurant.” Then the food wins you over because the food is freaking fabulous these days.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes it is.
Kathy Freston: Over the top, fabulous, with restaurants like Crossroads or Gracias Madre or Little Pine or even my favorite two restaurants in the world that aren’t vegan are steak restaurants and they have tofu dishes there. There are all kinds of fantastic food that is just like taking off in the modern culture.
Caryn Hartglass: You talk about swaps in this book and what’s funny to me is there was another book about swaps. It was by the Skinny Bitch duo…
Kathy Freston: Oh.
Caryn Hartglass: …and there was a vegan swaps book. It was a while ago. It was a fine book but the swap concept; I didn’t get it until I read your book.
Kathy Freston: Oh, thank you, thank you. Yeah, there’s always a solution. There’s always something to fill the sandwich with. Something when you’re used to one thing you can always find the other. Even when you’re baking, instead of eggs you can use applesauce or flax. They have egg replacer in the market now. There are all kinds of stuff and it’s just so fun to experiment. It’s really kind of a great, great thing to do with friends and in your community and on the weekends, you know? It’s just fun.
Caryn Hartglass: I do know. I do know because I sit down for every meal almost with my partner Gary and we look at each other, eating this delicious food and we think we’re the luckiest people in the world because we have the best food right here.
Kathy Freston: So colorful and it’s so hearty. Frankly I look back at the way that I used to eat which is very standard American diet—a piece of chicken, some rice, some peas, some broccoli, whatever. Now I look at that and that is just so boring, like seriously boring, dead food.
Caryn Hartglass: Dead.
Kathy Freston: Yeah, it is. Now I look at my plate and it is chock full. I’m not really a salad person unless it’s super hot outside. I like really hearty, filling food and I love comfort food. It’s just that my comfort food has shifted from fried chicken and mashed potatoes to grilled seitan or …
Caryn Hartglass: …and mashed potatoes.
Kathy Freston: Exactly, exactly. It’s the same, a lot of protein, a lot of healthy carbs, not the processed stuff and I don’t miss anything.
Caryn Hartglass: I read a lot of books especially for this show, food related, lots of how to do vegan, all different kinds. For example, last week I spoke with Mark Hawthorne who has a very serious, excellent book out called Vegan Ethic. It’s like an encyclopedia of all the issues you want to think about when you’re thinking about raising animals for food versus raising plants for food and then animals for all other purposes. He hit like every issue. It was inspiring but it was deep. Then I read your book, which you explained, is focused on younger generations, teens and young adults, written with Rachel Cohn, who apparently, I think she—I’m going to give her a lot of credit for this—it’s written so well. I can really see it appealing to that audience and yet you seem to cover just about everything in a way that’s easy.
Kathy Freston: Yeah, we didn’t want to over saturate with facts and figures…
Caryn Hartglass: …but it’s all there.
Kathy Freston: Yeah, it’s all there without being laborious. I think we all read so much now, online and newsletters and everything. We wanted to just get to the point, get the talking points, give you enough research so that you know what you’re doing is right and backed up by studies and academia and stuff like that but it doesn’t weigh you down with too much information. It’s just enough. Yes, Rachel is my… I can tend to be a little wonky and nerdy and wanting to fill things up with…it’s like, “here’s another thing, just so you know, it’s one more thing.” She really was great at just making it very, very easy to take in the information.
Caryn Hartglass: Very easy and yet at the same time obvious, so if you’re reading it I’d like to think you’d get it quickly.
Kathy Freston: I hope so.
Caryn Hartglass: And then want to act.
Kathy Freston: Yeah, yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: You have a number of testimonials in here. I have to admit, this may have been my most favorite part of the book. I just want to read it, if that’s ok.
Kathy Freston: Of course.
Caryn Hartglass: “My 90-year-old grandmother lives in Queens and she has lived in New York all her life. On one of my most recent visits, she and I were waiting for the elevator in her apartment building. We had just had a lovely meal in the building café and she was asking me about veganism and noticing that I had requested no cheese on my salad. I answered her questions and then she said something amazing, ‘You know ever since you started this thing I stopped eating so much meat. I guess I started to see a face with my food.’ This to me is still one of the most remarkable statements I ever heard regarding transition and diet. If a 90-year-old Jewish New Yorker with the taste for beef and gefilte fish can change, anybody can.” Lydia, New York, New York
Kathy Freston: Isn’t that the greatest?
Caryn Hartglass: I live in Queens with all of those 90-year-old grandmothers. I see them all the time.
Kathy Freston: Well done.
Caryn Hartglass: That really is remarkable.
Kathy Freston: It’s funny because the younger generation is sort of bringing up the older generation. They’re pushing forward at a rate that’s so much faster and they’re making it easier and they’re cutting to the chase. Again, they’re really chill about it. They’re not dogmatic. They’re not bossy. They’re not about strict rules. The older generation is like, “Oh, that kind of does make sense.” They’re just sort of leading by example. They’re having fun with it. I love seeing two people that far apart in age just really have the light bulb go on. It’s awesome.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah and for all of those 90-year-old grandmothers living in Queens who want to go this way I have a great vegan gefilte fish recipe just for you.
Kathy Freston: Gefilte fish, mm.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, that’s a special…acquired taste.
Kathy Freston: Yeah, I think you have to grow up loving it. It’s probably like the vegemite sandwich or something.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s a fish, very fishy. Let’s just go over briefly to Robin Robertson’s wonderful recipes.
Kathy Freston: Is she amazing, or what?
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Kathy Freston: I have been a fan of hers for so many years. This woman knows how to make comfort food. She is a chef that just has a knack for tapping into your love of tradition and comfort. It’s so good.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s just about all here. So before we get into Robin’s, I just want to acknowledge and mention, you mentioned cashew cream before and Chef Tal Ronnen and Crossroads. He is another vegan god chef. Cashew cream is so simple, as you describe in the book and it goes on everything.
Kathy Freston: Everything! I don’t know if you’re like me but I just want creaminess. I just want creaminess in my soups. I want sauces. I want a delicious sort of drink like a smoothie. Not even a smoothie, just something delicious and cold and sweet. I mean cashew cream spaghetti sauce, Alfredo, everything. It is so inexpensive and easy and …
Caryn Hartglass: …and good for you. No guilt.
Kathy Freston: Yeah, protein, everything. It’s fantastic.
Caryn Hartglass: I almost don’t want to say this but cashew cream is pretty perfect.
Kathy Freston: I know, it is. Believe me, I sing it from the rooftops. “You guys have to try this.” I know there’s so many people like me and we’re addicted to that cheesy feeling. It’s like that creamy-cheesy thing, know what I mean? So knowing that you can create this at home is just a godsend.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s making me think about something for a minute. Let’s talk about cheese. So many people say, “I can’t be vegan because I can’t give up dairy, I can’t give up cheese.” I’m thinking the cheese that people love the most isn’t really the sophisticated hard cheeses that you get in fine restaurants from France or whatever. It’s that melty, gooey stuff.
Kathy Freston: I have to say I like pretty much any kind of cheese, the sophisticated hard, the cheese gooey, the pizza stuff, the stuff in the burritos, pretty much anything but that’s the good news now…
Caryn Hartglass: It’s easy to make the melty gooey soft stuff.
Kathy Freston: Totally, totally. You’ve got the high end ones on the market like Kite Hill…
Caryn Hartglass: …Miyoko
Kathy Freston: Exactly, so you can have Miyoko and Kite Hill and all that stuff and you can also have Daiya melted on your pizza and Follow Your Heart on your toast. There are just so many good cheeses out there.
Caryn Hartglass: Can I just acknowledge that you pronounced “Daiya” correctly?
Kathy Freston: Oh did I?
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, everyone wants to call it “die-ya”.
Kathy Freston: Oh, yeah, well, “to-may-to”, “to-mah-to”
Caryn Hartglass: I learned that it’s “day-ya” and you know how I remember it? My friends John and Deo Robins, I always think of Deo and then I say “day-ya” instead of “Day-yo” and that’s how I remember how to say it.
Kathy Freston: Perfect. Love it, I love it. I’ll have to remember that.
Caryn Hartglass: Even Deo calls it “die-ya”.
Kathy Freston: It’s so good though.
Caryn Hartglass: It doesn’t matter what you call it, right? You call it “day-ya”, I call it “die-ya”, let’s call the whole thing off.
Kathy Freston: Exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: Eat vegan cheese.
Kathy Freston: As long as they exist out there I’m so happy.
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly. Do you have a favorite in here?
Kathy Freston: You know I’m a big protein person and I again, probably veer off of the vegan-speak out there that you don’t need a lot of protein. You don’t, for medical reasons, you don’t. We get plenty, plenty of protein. There’s no protein deficiency. That said, I work out really hard and I am vain and my hair is important to me and I just love protein-centric recipes and foods. So one of my favorites is on page 134, the Red Bean and Sweet Potato Hash. Anything with sweet potatoes I’m so happy with and this has the red beans so it’s like a one dish meal that you can have. It’s like a big bowl of sweet potatoes and beans with wonderful spices and herbs and everything. If you wanted to add more you can grill up a piece of tofu or a piece of Beyond Meat, throw in some broccoli, whatever you want to do but it’s just so good and so protein-rich.
Caryn Hartglass: You know I don’t think you need to slam the protein too much because number one, animal protein is pretty much all protein but when you’re eating plant protein, it’s got good carbohydrates in there. It’s like balanced naturally.
Kathy Freston: Exactly, exactly. It gives you so much energy. The healthy whole carbs like sweet potatoes… Okinawans are one of the blue zones, the longest living people in the world, especially the women, and they eat sweet potatoes all day long. They have them for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner. It is one of the longevity foods in the world. I like it because it’s not only fiber but it’s tasty, it’s kind of sweet, it’s so hardy and it’s just one of those things that you know you’re doing your body good.
Caryn Hartglass: Is everybody hungry yet? You should be. Talking about all this food always makes me very, very hungry.
Kathy Freston: I know, me too. I’m a foodie, I love food. I’m like you, when I sit down I’m like “Oh God, I love this so much. I love this food so much. It’s so damn good.”
Caryn Hartglass: Love this food so much. Now another good thing that I like in this book, it works for me, is you break it down, simplify things because people are so confused, “What do I eat? I don’t know what to eat.” People don’t even realize that so often they eat vegan as it is without even realizing it because most people don’t know what’s in their food to begin with. But you break it down, protein, starch, veggie and flavor boost. That’s a really nice way to think of it.
Kathy Freston: That’s the thing. So much about the sauces or the spices, are like how do you make it taste good? You got to find the things that make you happy. To me, I am so fine in the world as long as I have garlic, olive oil and salt. Honest to God, I could just live on that, put that on just about anything and I’m happy.
Caryn Hartglass: A little cashew cream? Done.
Kathy Freston: Yeah, exactly, cashew cream. Some people like cashew cream, some people like a peanut sauce, some people like a little sweeter. Once you have the flavor boost. The things you know you can add to just about anything, the food just comes alive, you know? And it’s pretty simple.
Caryn Hartglass: OK, the last thing I want to mention is the photographs in this book. Now I think all cookbooks should have many color photos. I don’t think it should be any other way. Unfortunately because of cost or whatever some people don’t have, as many and I like when they’re throughout. This is a very colorful book, lots of wonderful pictures.
Kathy Freston: Nicole Axworthy was our food stylist and photographer and she’s just fantastic. You can tell she loves it.
Caryn Hartglass: You want to lick the pages.
Kathy Freston: Yeah, and it’s simple, you can see how simple the food is to make. It’s not one of these fancy things that take you three-quarters of your day to shop and figure out how to make it. They’re pretty darn fast, like ten minutes, twenty minutes, to make this stuff and most of the stuff is, you know, either in your cabinet already or available in your local grocery store. You don’t even have to go to a health food store for it. So it’s really good stuff and Nicole just captured the recipes perfectly.
Caryn Hartglass: Perfectly. She did.
Kathy Freston: Yeah, I’m looking through it right now and …
Caryn Hartglass: You should be pretty proud. This is a great book. And for kids going off to college and teens in high school this would make a great gift.
Kathy Freston: And any adult…
Caryn Hartglass: …any adult. Because it’s easy to read.
Kathy Freston: It’s the ultimate guide to just sort of finding your way into this way of life.
Caryn Hartglass: Kathy, this was delight, delight, delight, pure delight. Thank you.
Kathy Freston: Thank you Caryn. I love talking to you.
Caryn Hartglass: OK, take care.
Kathy Freston: You too. Bye.
Caryn Hartglass: That was Kathy Freston, author of the Book of Veganish. Please look for it. It’s beautiful, stunning, fabulous. Can’t say enough good about it and I love it and full of comfort food.
Transcribed by Suzanne Kelly, 9/18/2016
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody. I’m back, and I’m swallowing this, I was eating some amazing food just now and needed to get it down. Oh, amazing stuff! This is really fun! I have with me here in the studio May Kaidee, and she is an incredible, successful entrepreneur. She owns vegan restaurants, and cooking schools in Bangkok and Chiang Mai?
May Kaidee: Chiang Mai.
Caryn Hartglass: Chiang Mai. And we’re lucky to have her here in New York right now, and she’s going to tell us a lot of why she’s here and what she’s doing, and it has to do with delicious Thai food, that’s vegan! Welcome to It’s All About Food! So, say hello in the microphone so we can hear you.
May Kaidee: Okay, hello everyone. My name May Kaidee.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Good. Let me bring that up a little. Okay. Yeah. Okay. Great. So, you’re here in New York right now.
May Kaidee: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: And you’ve had a few months, you’ve been doing some interesting projects, so why don’t you let us know what you’ve been doing in New York.
May Kaidee: Yeah, now I been here about 8 months already.
Caryn Hartglass: 8 months!
May Kaidee: Yes. In the 8 months I wanted to start some business. Started do the May Kaidee Cooking Class, and May Kaidee there Kickstarter, the kick to cooking for vegetarian, vegan food, for people at home.
Caryn Hartglass: So have you been giving cooking classes while you’ve been here in New York.
May Kaidee: Yes, I have a lots of class. Right now about 15 even already.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow. Okay.
May Kaidee: Yeah New York and New Jersey but next trip we go to upstate.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay now a lot of people love Thai food but one of the frustrating things for a vegetarian or a vegan is we discovered there are things in the sauce that aren’t for vegetarians. So what do you do to make?
May Kaidee: For the sauce for the vegetarian food?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah!
May Kaidee: I use only vegan food, yeah. And for the sauce I use very special cooking, chili paste, you know because we use chili paste for the tom yum soup, we use the chili paste for dipping, you can use chili paste for the stir fry, you can use chili paste for the curry.
Caryn Hartglass: And it’s spicy!
May Kaidee: Yeah, spicy for make the flavor, you know that’s why they’re very special today. You know I bring you try, how is spicy?
Caryn Hartglass: I love it! I’ve tried the spring rolls?
May Kaidee: Yes, spring rolls and with peanut sauce.
Caryn Hartglass: With a sweet, spicy peanut sauce! It’s so good, peanut sauce!
May Kaidee: Yes, peanut sauce.
Caryn Hartglass: And you… it’s got a lot of cilantro in it too, which I love.
May Kaidee: Yes, cilantro and ginger.
Caryn Hartglass: And ginger, yeah it’s just the simplest of foods and it’s delicious, and then you’ve… you jarred a particular sauce. Can I?
May Kaidee: One kind of chili paste, chili, and herb, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaf with onion, garlic, carrot, you know.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, it’s got, I’m going to read it, it has daikon, jicama, carrot, dried chili, brown sugar, tamarind, vinegar, vegetable oil, salt, soy sauce, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal.
May Kaidee: Yes, we use in the herbs in there.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, beautiful and it’s delicious! Wow! So we can buy this here in New York?
May Kaidee: Yes, coming soon, also in New York.
Caryn Hartglass: Not yet?
May Kaidee: Not yet, but we plan because we have the first set up restaurant right now, May Kaidee restaurant coming soon, but October, on October and then we starting this also.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. This is exciting. So you need to look for May Kaidee’s Tom Yum Chili Paste. Vegan! Beautiful. Okay. When you do your cooking classes, what do you make?
May Kaidee: Oh in my class, I cooking tom yum, the favorite people like.
Caryn Hartglass: The soup.
May Kaidee: The Tom Yum soup, Massaman curry, Pad Thai, and Black Sticky Rice with Mango. Some people want to do special dishes; they can request what they like also. Sometimes they like the special dish like the northeast Thailand, and Bangkok, really different, or northeast. Sometimes they like more spicy, I just to bring more chili, and they can cook many stuff.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, let’s go in the past, back in history when you were young, I always love to hear stories about how people became vegetarian and why they did, so can you tell us a little bit about you?
May Kaidee: Yes. For me I done this for vegetarian before because I stay in the small village, small village, like the farm, in the farm and we cooking a lots of local food like that frog, and fish in the farm you can find everything in the farm we cooking. And also one thing happened with me, because my auntie, she live in Bangkok, she have the husband falling from foreign, from French, then they had a restaurant, vegan restaurant. That why I go to the beginning with her, because she need me help.
Caryn Hartglass: I see.
May Kaidee: That’s why the first time why I go to Bangkok and starting help the restaurant with my aunt. That’s the vegetarian food, only foreigner, I survive from 1988. That’s why they make my life change, not stay in the village, not work in farm, but she invite me to help in the kitchen.
Caryn Hartglass: You were lucky to have your aunt.
May Kaidee: Yes, that’s why I beginning from help cooking, chop vegetable, but not vegetarian. I cook but I eat meat. That’s why I be eating someday I make my body really problem because when you eat a lots of meat and food not digest, I had the weight problem like that 65 kilo.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, you were heavy.
May Kaidee: Yeah I had the problem from that, and also…
Caryn Hartglass: Well let me tell you right now, May Kaidee is beautiful, she has a beautiful dress on, and decorated with all kinds of lovely jewelry! It’s just so exciting to see it! I’m going to post it on my website later, but, just absolutely stunning. Did you come here in a taxi or did you…
May Kaidee: No just walking, I say at 34 street, really close here.
Caryn Hartglass: Did you walk? And were people admiring you as you walked?
May Kaidee: Yeah even take photos, yes is walking like that.
Caryn Hartglass: And we’re here in New York City and there’s all kinds of people here and all kinds of dress, and most people leave everybody alone, but you’re just too striking for people not to pay attention too! That’s lovely. So does this clothing signify anything in particular?
May Kaidee: Yes, it’s about the Thai culture. They have many Thai people, when you wear like that it means you do ceremony something. You do at the wedding sometime not like the jewelry but like the Thai sometimes they use for ceremony for Thai dance for the King bird there, or Queen Bird there in the school, they have some show for school, teaching Thai dance, this should… that’s why that costume for show.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s lovely…
May Kaidee: Yeah, but I do that for walking and marketing…
Caryn Hartglass: Now what do Thai people think of vegetarians?
May Kaidee: Before people see vegetarian as, oh is how you get the power from vegetarian, how people see how, oh how you have energy for that. Sometimes I worry about that. But after then, when I become vegetarian for 25 year, I have been for 25 year now, then they can tell my body don’t worry about the protein, don’t worry about the meat. Sometime I eat just the tofu, soy milk, or like the product like the nut, or brown rice. My body doesn’t have problem with that, that why my body decides to eat more vegetable only vegetarian right now.
Caryn Hartglass: This program is always open to calls, and if anybody has any questions about Thai cuisine you can call in at 1-888-874-4888, 1-888-874-4888. Yeah, I love Thai food, but I never know where I can get it, where I can be sure it’s vegan, because of the fish sauce, and the oyster sauce.
May Kaidee: Yes. And right now vegetarian really popular everywhere, and when foreigner go to Thailand they bring vegetarian food or vegan and raw food to Thailand.
Caryn Hartglass: Raw foods too?
May Kaidee: Yeah raw food also, and now Thai people really full of what people eating health, they know about the health, the fasting, and they know about the detox, that why the Thai people eating more healthy right now. And then people that like the vegetarian, many vegetarian fish sauce right now like the soy sauce, we don’t use fish sauce, but we use light soy sauce or dark soy sauce. We don’t use oyster sauce, but we use mushroom sauce.
Caryn Hartglass: Mushroom sauce is better than oyster sauce.
May Kaidee: Yeah. Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: And it’s so good for you.
May Kaidee: Yeah. Sometimes you can use the miso, you know miso, like the bean paste.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh miso, sure.
May Kaidee: The same in Thailand, they have Thai miso also.
Caryn Hartglass: Mm. Thai miso!
May Kaidee: Yeah, Thai miso.
Caryn Hartglass: Where can I find that?
May Kaidee: Yeah in Asian market, they have in the Thai market, they have Thai…
Caryn Hartglass: Is it called Thai miso or…
May Kaidee: It’s miso but made from Thailand, you know Thailand miso is for stir fry, but for the Japanese it’s more sticky in the back, but Thailand miso is made from beans, the same.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, from the beans. Amazing beans! We can do everything with beans right? Okay now you have been everywhere. You’ve taught cooking in how many countries?
May Kaidee: I have been cooking in Japan, England, Moscow, and also the… in the England two times, Moscow two time, and Japan two time also.
Caryn Hartglass: Did they like your food in Moscow?
May Kaidee: Yes. I surprised.
Caryn Hartglass: Is there a lot of Thai food there?
May Kaidee: I saw some restaurant Thai, many people to go there. But my cooking there show is vegan people because the community people there is the Hindu. The Hindu temple. They do the ceremony for Krishna.
Caryn Hartglass: I went to a vegetarian conference once in Brazil. And I did some cooking demos of some very simple food, and before I got there I sent the list to the conference people for the food that I needed, without thinking I couldn’t… They didn’t have all the same ingredients.
May Kaidee: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: So when you’re in Russia, can you find all the food that you need?
May Kaidee: Yeah, I can find some but not it all.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
May Kaidee: But I can change something.
Caryn Hartglass: That shows your talent when you can make it with something new.
May Kaidee: Yes! I know, like the green curry, sometimes you use the basil, right, but there they use lots of dill, and I used dill for the green curry. I use dill for red curry.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. That could be good!
May Kaidee: Yes! It is really good. Also…
Caryn Hartglass: They like that. They like their dill there, in Russia.
May Kaidee: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: I live in Queens in New York. There’s a big Russian community, and in the stores near the Russian area the dill that they sell it’s always cheaper and just a lot of it, because they like dill. Dill instead of basil, okay. Why not? And what about in… You’ve been to France?
May Kaidee: France, no.
Caryn Hartglass: No.
May Kaidee: I’ve never been France.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, they need you. They’re the cuisine capital of the world, right.
May Kaidee: I like to travel in…
Caryn Hartglass: They need you; I’ll tell you why. Maybe it’s different, but I lived in the South of France in the early 90s. I never found a good Thai restaurant. They need you.
May Kaidee: I see. Some Thai restaurant, not Thai people cooking.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
May Kaidee: Some Thai restaurant they debut the business then they sell for some foreigner, sometimes Chinese, and some people like that.
Caryn Hartglass: I went to a Thai restaurant last week in the Broadway district, Times Square. It was terrible.
May Kaidee: Wow! Yeah maybe but many people say Thai cooking, but not Thai people cooking sometimes like that.
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly. Yes.
May Kaidee: Thai food, but not Thai people cooking. One restaurant, some here also. Everything Thai. Have the Buddha, the monk, have everything, decorated like the Thai. When I go there I say hello, to say “sawadikap”, nobody know me.
Caryn Hartglass: I have a question. There was a nice Thai restaurant in my neighborhood in Forest Hills, it’s not there anymore, and they had these… goddesses. I think they were hanging from the ceiling these… They were wooden women with wings. Someone told me they were goddesses of the rice paddies. Do you know what I’m talking about? I see them in Thai restaurants sometimes. Is that an American creation, or is that really Thai?
May Kaidee: No, I think that just for some marketing, right.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
May Kaidee: Yes, I think like that.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. That’s, that’s good to know. That’s funny. Okay. You’ve had one Kickstarter. And now you have another one.
May Kaidee: Another coming also.
Caryn Hartglass: And what is it for?
May Kaidee: The Kickstarter for next?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
May Kaidee: Yeah, or right now we do the tour cooking. Next we go to upstate.
Caryn Hartglass: Upstate New York.
May Kaidee: Yeah, and then go to the Boston.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, where in upstate New York?
May Kaidee: In the Ithaca.
Caryn Hartglass: Ithaca! When are you going to be there?
May Kaidee: Next week!
Caryn Hartglass: Okay.
May Kaidee: Coming, coming next week.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Very good. I might be in Ithaca next week.
May Kaidee: Yes, Ithaca.
Caryn Hartglass: Are you teaching at the university, or at a…
May Kaidee: At the Cornell university, you know that?
Caryn Hartglass: Is it in Ithaca?
May Kaidee: Very close to Ithaca, not in the Ithaca. We do two places, Ithaca and the Cornell university.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, okay, so you’re doing a Kickstarter to raise money to do what?
May Kaidee: For the money we want to debut a restaurant right now we starting restaurant in the… buy some of the ingredients, some of the produce, right now. We’ve started tenting, construction.
Caryn Hartglass: So you have a restaurant?
May Kaidee: Yeah, right now we have already.
Caryn Hartglass: And where is it?
May Kaidee: On 28th street, east side.
Caryn Hartglass: But it’s not open.
May Kaidee: Coming on October.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, so we’re going to have a real vegan Thai restaurant in October.
May Kaidee: Yeah!
Caryn Hartglass: Are you going to stay in New York?
May Kaidee: Yes, because I want to debut the May Kaidee in New York, that’s why I’m going to stay for a long time.
Caryn Hartglass: Beautiful. Okay, this is exciting! So it should open in October, and what’s on the menu?
May Kaidee: In the menu like the local food, local it means from Thailand. We have the Thai, Bangkok, South, North East, and North Thailand; you know you can see Thai food very different about North Thailand, different South Thailand, and Bangkok.
Caryn Hartglass: How is it… I don’t know, I only know Pad Thai so?
May Kaidee: Yes, the culture very different also, Thai, North East and… my village like the North East Thailand, the food.
Caryn Hartglass: Is it spicier or richer?
May Kaidee: Yes, it’s spicy.
Caryn Hartglass: In the North?
May Kaidee: Yeah, North East, spicy, also but not a lots of coconut.
Caryn Hartglass: Not a lot of coconut.
May Kaidee: Really light. Similar like that, but dipping with the spicy…
Caryn Hartglass: Spicy, but not heavy.
May Kaidee: Yes. But like the Chiang Mai, they have the soups, special like the Khao Soi like the North Thailand, and like the Burma they have the mix North and Burma a little bit the food, that’s why they’re very different. And South Bangkok is like they are a little bit like the Muslim and Thai South people, that why they mix together. And Bangkok is the original style, Pad Thai, tom yum, Massaman, and also the curry, or stir fry, or salads, crispy salads, mangoes, spicy, or lemongrass salad, something like that.
Caryn Hartglass: Mmm. Sounds good. Are you getting hungry everybody? I have some great… I’m going to try one bite, because it was so good. I’ve got a spring roll here and it’s got tofu in it, and carrots, and is that cabbage or lettuce in there?
May Kaidee: Yeah, lettuce.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, lettuce, and…
May Kaidee: Ginger, and cashew nut also.
Caryn Hartglass: What is this?
May Kaidee: Just ginger.
Caryn Hartglass: Ginger, oh nice strips of ginger in a sweet, peanut sauce. I’m taking a bite. Hold on a minute. Crunch. Okay, I love the ginger. Mmm. That’s so good. Oh. There’s a cashew in there!
May Kaidee: Yes, cashew nut.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s so exciting, I’m crunching on something! I never had a cashew in my spring roll.
May Kaidee: Sometimes you can use the avocado, it’s very good, if you eat lots of avocado you can sometimes I don’t use cashew nut, but I use avocado, more creamy together.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh this is really good. Mmm. Okay. What else do you want to tell me about? You have a few restaurants in Thailand?
May Kaidee: Yeah, we have three in Bangkok, one in Chiang Mai, and one in Cambodia also opening already.
Caryn Hartglass: And, do you find a lot of vegetarians go there, or everybody goes there?
May Kaidee: Go to Thailand?
Caryn Hartglass: To your restaurants.
May Kaidee: In Thailand, in Bangkok?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
May Kaidee: We have the restaurant from 1988 almost 20 years, or 25 years or 28.
Caryn Hartglass: Has it always been vegetarian?
May Kaidee: Yes. And also the one thing. Not Thai people go to my restaurants, only foreigner. Yes! International people when they see vegetarian people surprised, only foreigner go to my restaurants, that’s why I beginning myself on the street, like the food the street food. I have the small cart and the restaurant only two table. When the raining you cannot eat you just stop. When the rain goes you can come and no name restaurant before but many people. I surprised after the Lonely Plant visit I the, oh your restaurant really popular, you have the May Kaidee in Lonely Planet, in the city guide, you know in the Germany and French guides. And after then, TV from France, Germany, England, and TV from Israel coming to talk about me. How you come vegetarian? Why only foreigner come to your business? I show Thai culture, I show the cooking and dancing. That’s why I like the dress like that, I show Thai cooking…
Caryn Hartglass: So you like foreigners.
May Kaidee: Yes. Of course.
Caryn Hartglass: Cause we like your food! That’s funny. I’ve… you know how I found out about you. From John Philips.
May Kaidee: John. Oh that’s my student cooking class in Thailand about two years ago or four years ago he been.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, he came to your class in Thailand.
May Kaidee: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. He’s… I met him when he was a teenager, and he was a young vegan and a great activist and a great volunteer, and he’s continued to be a good friend and colleague and knows all the best places to eat, so he found you and then knew, I guess found out, that you were here in New York.
May Kaidee: Also, one thing in New York, one thing I do, I do the cooking Saturday night, no Friday night, I do the cooking party, cooking party, and then I invite people into my apartment. I just do the cooking too like the business card on street people want to join my dinner cooking, that’s why I do that. People see, oh May Kaidee in New York, do something, then people booking. Sometimes I have twenty people in one day, only in 7 o’clock until 9, that’s it. It’s good every week, twenty people, fifteen people, ten people, like that is good. Some meeting people.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. So I’m wondering about… I know what I can get in a restaurant, but in Thailand, a fine meal, do you serve special…. Excuse me! I had a bite and now I’m belching, is that impolite? Are there special beverages, alcohol, wines?
May Kaidee: In Thailand?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
May Kaidee: For my restaurant?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, in the culture and the restaurant.
May Kaidee: Yeah in Thailand, they have wine, not so popular, but for local people they drink more like whiskey or something like that. They have also you know the drink but the wine not so popular for them.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay so whiskey’s popular, wine not so popular.
May Kaidee: Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: Often we can get a Thai iced tea that has milk in it.
May Kaidee: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Do you make a vegan version?
May Kaidee: Yes! I want to do that one, Thai, or Thai tea, or Thai iced coffee, normally I do in my restaurant, I making Thai tea with almond milk and coconut milk. No milk. And also with Thai coffee also, you can add coconut milk or you can add almond milk, it’s very good.
Caryn Hartglass: It is very good!
May Kaidee: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh. Yes! Okay so where can people find you right now. So you have a website, does it talk about the New York events on your website?
May Kaidee: Yeah, where May Kaidee grand opening, Facebook, Instagram, on the Twitter, and also May Kaidee website.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, I’m going to put links on my website for your Facebook page, and your website. This is really very exciting for people to find out about. You don’t have a specific date yet for your grand opening?
May Kaidee: Yeah, grand opening we plan onto October.
Caryn Hartglass: The 2nd?
May Kaidee: 2nd October we plan if everything not problem. We want to do that, because with paper work not easy sometimes.
Caryn Hartglass: Has the health department visited you yet?
May Kaidee: Yeah that’s why….
Caryn Hartglass: The New York Health Department…
May Kaidee: Yeah that’s why you say every time starting now for big cleaning.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, big cleaning.
May Kaidee: That’s why I say, we say 2nd October, if can open. Everyone want to go my party, I invite monk to do ceremony for the grand opening for the Buddhists.
Caryn Hartglass: So we’ll see some nice costumes at the ceremony.
May Kaidee: Yeah, yeah, ceremony, and plate for the gods of the land, and also the party I do rent the buffet, people can enjoy the food, starting like the noon, like 12 o’clock afternoon after monk finish lunch, until 8 o’clock. I want to do that all day, party, and buffet, and everyone can eat, and just people donation, just donation for that.
Caryn Hartglass: I see, that’s beautiful! All life should be like that, where you eat, and you pay what you want to pay.
May Kaidee: Yeah, I want people to taste the food also in that time.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, beautiful. Okay so the October 2nd hopefully you’re going to open. What’s the address?
May Kaidee: Address, 126 28 East…
Caryn Hartglass: 126 East 28th Street.
May Kaidee: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay.
May Kaidee: I will send an email again to you.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, good. I’m so delighted to meet you! This has been such a treat, and I really love that you took the time and the effort to wear this beautiful costume. We’ve gotten really sloppy here in the United States, nobody cares what they put on anymore, so this is really exciting for me and this food I can’t wait to dig into in. Okay, so May Kaidee, thank you so much for joining me on It’s All About Food.
May Kaidee: You’re welcome.
Caryn Hartglass: And don’t go anywhere because I want to nibble a little bit more on this, but I just have a few more things to say to my listeners before I close out the program. Once again I want to remind you as I said at the top of the show about the Forks over Knives and Engine 2 program, the different weekenders and the weeklong emersion. This is really a great opportunity, especially if you’re new to the food, or if you’re not it’s a great time to really meet some of these wonderful speakers, and educators, and eat great food, and have a great time! And meet people just like you! So www.responsibleeatingandliving.com is my website. Go there and find the link to the Forks 2 Events. Excellent. Okay, thank you and I’m Caryn Hartglass, and you’ve been listening too It’s All About Food, thank you for joining me and have a delicious week.
Transcribed by Zia Kara, 9/18/2016