Niki came from Thailand. Her parents live in Wales where she joined them after finishing school in Ban...gkok. She is now studying Administration and Marketing at Greenwich University and works in Busaba Panton Street.
Where is home?
Where your heart lives! (laughs)
Could you compare Thailand and Bangkok?
Thailand is also called ‘sejami’ – land of smile. I believe we are a polite and helpful nation. I also believe that the people make the country. 85% of Londoners are foreign – tourists, passers-by. It’s difficult to feel local.
What is your dream country?
Sydney! The weather is great, but not as hot as in Thailand, yet it’s close to it and Australia is similar to England. I would feel comfortable there.
Offy came to London in 2004 and even though he has been raised in Bangkok, one of the craziest cities ...in Asia, he still thinks there’s no other place as mad as London!
What’s your favourite thing about London?
I love the first thing I saw on my arrival: The Big Ben!
What are your hobbies?
Sneaky TV after work, but I also enjoy reading and cooking (Offy is famous for amazing culinary skills). My favourite read is a Thai book consisting from 50 books telling one story. It teaches that the only way to be happy is to treat yourself with happiness.
What do you love about cooking?
My family always had a small street food business. I grew up running around Bangkok trying to get missing ingredients – green peppercorns were especially difficult to get! Up to now my favourite thing is jasmine rice with fish sauce. No matter what else I order, I will always first smell freshly boiled rice and then, when it’s still steaming, add a generous spoonful of fish sauce.
Three years ago, Aleksandra (Ola for short) moved to London to improve her English and started working... at Busaba Eathai at Westfield London. Now Ola works as a Trainee Manager at Busaba Bird Street.
Tell us - what is your favourite meal?
It’s a Polish dish called Kopytka, which are dumplings mainly made with potato and flour. Kopytkas are served in a sauce made with fried onion and sausage dipped in cream. I cook the BEST Kopyktas in the world!
What can’t you live without?
Sweets! I love everything which is made of sugar. In my handbag I always have a chocolate bar or candy. I can’t live without sweets!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was little I wanted to be a teacher. My grandma was a teacher, as well as my aunts. I used to like to play school with my sister… I even had a teacher’s notebook and blackboard.
And lastly, what is your favourite dish on the Busaba menu?
My favourite is Pad Kwetio – it’s a good combination of spicy seafood and chicken. Before I started working at Busaba, I didn’t like seafood. But now I love it – thanks to Thai Calamari and Goong tohd prawns.
Sasi has been a member of the Busaba Eathai family since the 24 of July 2005. Sanjeevi Paranjothi, ...Kitchen Operations Manager, once told us he has learnt all his best tricks from her.
Sasi, what is your story?
I grew up in a tiny village next to Koh Samui. It is the most beautiful place one can image, a paradise on earth. I chose to study agriculture and eventually fell in love with cooking.
Can you remember your first real job?
Very well! I worked at a hotel in Phuket. In the morning I used to take tourists around food markets and later teach them how to cook with ingredients they had picked. We would make a Tom Yam soup and Thai curries from scratch! Back then I picked up a passion for experimenting. Now on my way to work I usually visit Chinatown, we have a little staff food competition going on with other chefs and I try to take the creative approach to it. When I worked at the hotel, a Russian billionaire tried to persuade me to move to Moscow and be his personal chef.
Around the same time Alan Yau made me an offer to move to London and start working at Busaba. I felt that I could trust him. After moving here I also realized that for all my life I was allergic to hot weather! The English climate and the countryside are my two favourite things in the world...
Jun is a sous chef and has worked at our Busaba Westfield Stratford City since 2008...
What is your earliest childhood memory?
I was three or four years old when I saw a real lion! That was back in the Philippines when my family visited Manila Jungle Zoo. Phew, that was scary!
What do you feel passionate about?
Cooking, obviously! I experiment a lot with Asian ingredients, however my four-year old son refuses to eat anything apart from chicken wings…
You have a very beautiful name. What is the story behind it?
My Mum and Dad wanted to call me Romio. That’s my Dad’s name. However, once they left the registration office and looked at the birth certificate it said ‘Jun’… I guess the lady on duty thought ‘Jun’ suited me better!
What makes you smile?
My wife and my son. Always!
Dario works as a Trainee Manager at Busaba Covent Garden. He is an inspired photographer and a born tr...aveller.
Where do you come form?
My home country is Portugal. Damn, I miss Portuguese beaches – perfect weather and perfect waves! The Algarve coast is a surfers paradise. I am not even mentioning our fresh fish selection….
When did you come to London?
It’s already over two years! Back home I studied photography. For almost four years I worked as a surfing photographer and did a few party photography assignments, I loved it!
Who is your favourite photographer?
Sebastian Salgado. He is a travel photographer.
Why do you think people love travelling?
Travel is knowledge.
For a good year now Steven has worked in one of the busiest Busaba branches - Bird Street...
Tell us a few words about yourself!
I’m Italian. I come from Salerno, a town on the Amalfi coast. It has beautiful sea views and a strong sense of community.
I had just turned 19 when I landed here on the 6th September. I wanted to challenge myself. At the beginning it was really stressful, I had to find a place to live, find work and form new friendships. It was a hard, but an interesting year.
Is it still challenging?
Every day! But now it’s different. I recently went to a night club, looked around, stayed for a bit and decided I can spend the rest of my life here in London. I love the night life, but especially the variety of opportunities London gives you.
Michal has worked at Busaba Eathai since 2008. He now is an Assistant Restaurant Manager at Busaba Pan...ton Street.
What can’t you live without?
Coffee. The best are short and strong shots. I love the bitterness and the kick it gives you.
Where did you have your best cup?
Portugal. My Italian friends will hate me now. (laughs) It was in Algarve on a sunny afternoon in one of those tiny coffee shops with rows of round coffee tables laid outside. I sat there watching people passing by for a good few hours.
What’s your mum’s special?
Pierogi. It’s Polish dumpling dish made with meat filling and served with sour cream, flitch and onion sauce.
Dhen is a prep team member in Busaba Eathai Westfield Stratford City...
Where is home?
Barcelona is where my heart lives. Mondjuic is a fun park where I used to go as a kid. Up till now I remember saving up pocket money to buy a ticket for me and my Dad - they wouldn't let me in alone! I miss my friends and family.
Tell us the first thing that comes into your head!
A big bowl of rice! Both of my parents are Asian and rice, as in every traditional family, is eaten with every meal. My mum used to make a dish called Adobo. It's pork with soya sauce and potatoes. No matter how many times I have tried, I can’t get it right…
Great! What's the second?
(Laughs) Basketball is my big passion. My lucky number is 24!
Laura comes from the Canary Islands in Spain. She can be visited at Busaba King’s Road, in Chelsea...
Can you describe your morning?
Back home I would be out of bed by 8am, have a glass of fresh orange juice – my dad keeps orange trees in the back garden – he used to squeeze me a glass every morning! I would glance at the newspaper and then rush out to work.
Here in London I get up much later. We usually start closing at 11pm. It also takes a while to get home. I can’t force myself out of bed earlier than 10am. I do try to go to the gym before work though!
Do you have a hobby?
I’m a surfer!
What is your favourite spot in London?
Greenwich. I love long walks by the river markets and lazy Sundays.
Elena started at Busaba Covent Garden. You can now visit her at Busaba Store Street where she’s workin...g as a trainee manager.
Where are you from?
Italy, Pisa, Tuscany! There is this riverbank full of bars and little lights at night. I remember sitting there with my best friends having wine, spending summer nights chatting about life and dreams. That’s where I grew up.
What’s your favourite thing in the world?
Baking! Sadly here I don’t have an oven. My friends still remember the Nutella cake I used to make!
Can you share the recipe?
It’s easy! You need: Flour, sugar, yogurt, eggs. Mix it all together, bake, cut it in half, spread Nutella and leave for a little. Voilà! I am also a master of fruit tarts.
Valentina goes by ‘Vale’ for short. She has worked at Store Street for almost a year. Many regular cus...tomers know her as a little bit boisterous and very open girl.
Where are you from Vale?
Italy! My hometown is close to Rome, it’s a tiny place called Sora. It’s so charmingly boring, that there is no place where to go out, people simply hang around!
What else have you done before Busaba?
I spoke very little English when I came here, so my friends helped me to get a job as an au pair. I love kids, but during that time I really missed people and having loads of buzz, movement around me, so once my contract was finished I immediately jumped into the restaurant industry!
What’s your favourite place in London?
Russell Square. It’s in the heart of busy Bloomsbury, yet calm and peaceful.
Melissa’s family moved to London in 2008, when she was 16 years old. She has finished school only a li...ttle over than a year ago and now works as a Commis Chef in Busaba Covent Garden.
How did it feel to move from a little village to busy London?
When I first moved here I had no friends and spoke very little English. My family wanted me to start school straight away and so I jumped from a classroom of 45 in the Philippines to a lot less busy South London School. It helped me to re-evaluate my personality and discover new hobbies. I’ve learnt the greatest is my love for cooking.
What makes London feel like home?
From Spain and the Phillipines, Dan grew up living between two continents at the same time and has wor...ked for Busaba for three years.
Dan belongs to a unique gang of Busaba chefs, many who came to us quiet and timid with a tiny CV knowing just the basics about the restaurant environment and successfully worked their way up. In 2010 Dan started at our Store Street branch as a kitchen porter. He is now an accomplished open fire wok chef and handles hectic shifts working on the pass ensuring the right dish gets to your table.
Where did you learn how to cook?
My family is from the Philippines. They moved to Spain before I was born. I was constantly traveling between the two. This helped me to see the cultural differences between European and Asian cuisine.
I though this was interesting, packed my bag and came to London in search of opportunities.
What was your first impression about London?
Everyone is a happy workaholic!