Close-up headshot of a smiling Chef Nuit Regular

Chef Nuit Regular Brings a Warm Heart and a Keen Eye to Wall of Chefs

For as long as she can remember, Chef Nuit Regular has always found happiness by fostering it in others — although her happiness didn’t always start in the kitchen. As a young child growing up in Phrae, Thailand, she remembers hating to cook. “I wanted to go out to ride bicycles with my friends, but I had to help to make curry paste, even when I was little. My mother would grow her own vegetables and sell satay in the laneway outside the house,” says Nuit. “And I wanted to help my mother, because I loved her.”

When Nuit later trained as a nurse in Pai, Thailand, she made extra money for herself and her family by selling food in class, and then eventually worked in nursing by day and ran Curry Shack restaurant during the evening hours with her husband, Jeff Regular. “I wanted to become a nurse and help the poor people in my village to make them comfortable and ease their worry and pain,” she says. “And when I started cooking in the restaurant and the guests said they loved the food, it made me feel happy in the same way.”

Related: Inside Chef Nuit Regular’s Fridge

Close up shot of Chef Nuit Regular smiling

Photo courtesy of Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott

She and Jeff brought different flavours of Thailand to Toronto’s restaurant scene, including the northern Thai flavours at Sukothai, Pai Northern Thai Kitchen, Sabai Sabai and elaborate royal Thai dishes at Kiin. Trying to do something new has often presented its own challenges, both in sourcing authentic ingredients and in changing preconceived notions. Although many people were curious and wanted to learn, Nuit clearly remembers a customer who insisted her pad thai was made incorrectly. “He wanted me to add ketchup to the pad thai and I had to tell him, ‘I am sorry, but even though I won’t make any money here, I can’t give you the dish that way’,” says Nuit. “In the beginning, it was really hard because people didn’t understand, but now there’s a lot of diversity in Toronto.”

Related: 18 Ingredients the Wall of Chefs Stars Love to Splurge on

A plate of pad Thai noodles

Nuit Regular’s pad thai dish at Pai, which remains ketchup free.

Today, Nuit is a successful chef and restaurateur, responsible for over 200 staff members across her restaurant empire (with a second Pai location set to open this year) and her first cookbook, Kiin: Recipes And Stories From Northern Thailand, set to hit the shelves on October 20. As a judge on this season’s Wall of Chefs, Nuit enjoys the histories and backgrounds of the dishes that contestants set before her. “I want to see the story behind the dish, and those techniques from different households,” she says. Competitors looking to impress her discerning palate should be prepared to present a balanced, colourful and creative dish (she has even been known to sniff the food in front of her to check the aroma when judging). She also wants cooks to remember their portion sizes. “Don’t try to make a lot,” she advises. “You only have to make four plates, which is more manageable: the cooking time will be shorter, and your flavours will be more intense.”

Nuit Regular and Noah Cappe at a home cook's station on the set of Wall of Chefs

Nuit Regular on the set of Wall of Chefs

See More: Watch Full Episodes of Wall of Chefs

And as one former home cook to another, Nuit sympathizes with the stress of the competition (she still admits to some nervousness herself when she cooks in front of people). “I pause, take a step back and breathe,” she says. “And I tell myself, ‘You’re doing something that you’ve made for your family before that they love’. If you cook, follow your heart.”

Leave a Reply