Cooking her way to a new life

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After years of hard, menial labor, Sompong Prachariko has found success and happiness doing what she loves: cooking.

The 40-year-old Buriram native came to Pattaya in January, hoping for new fortune after working her life as a rice farmer, day laborer and street vendor. Her only skill was with a skillet, but her friends told her she did it well, so she tried her luck. It turns out her friends were right.

Sompong specializes in those spicy Issan dishes so popular among Pattaya’s large northeastern population. Som tam, of course, is a staple of the menu at her Naklua Market Soi A food stall called the “Larb Ped Song Krueng Buriram” which denotes her signature dish “Larb Ped Buriram,” or Buriram Spicy Minced Duck Salad.

It’s ready to serve: Sompong Prachariko and her daughter Sukalyani Prachariko prepare to serve mom’s signature dish, “Larb Ped Buriram,” or Buriram Spicy Minced Duck Salad. It’s ready to serve: Sompong Prachariko and her daughter Sukalyani Prachariko prepare to serve mom’s signature dish, “Larb Ped Buriram,” or Buriram Spicy Minced Duck Salad.

Customer Sirikul Korsiri said she thinks the food is delicious and that Sompong provides great service.

Somgpong said she had always enjoyed cooking and never enjoyed the hard labor. Not only was it exhausting, but it provided to little income to send her children to school. Now she takes in 10,000-15,000 baht a month and her daughter, Sukalyani, lives with her and helps out in the evenings.

Sukalyani said her mother is happier now, as is she. She said she’s proud her mother was brave enough to follow her own path and, as she continues school, she wants to work in the culinary field.