By Katie Averill
IN AN UNASSUMING LOCATION IN ANAHEIM, CHEF SAIFON PLEWTONG HAS CREATED A RESTAURANT THAT TRANSPORTS YOU TO ANOTHER PLACE AS SOON AS YOU WALK THROUGH THE DOOR.
There is a mellow, ethereal calming feeling to the dark room lit here and there with warm yellowy lights. The music is peaceful and the aromas from the interactive open hot pot embrace you immediately. Originally from Thailand, Chef
Saifon has successfully created a Thai ambiance and I, for one, want to stay. The chef with her grounded, quiet presence makes us feel at ease. There is no doubt that she has the respect of everyone who works for her with their “yes chef”, “no chef” treatment of her. While at first blush she may seem quiet, she talks up a storm about her organic lifestyle and ways. No corners are cut at True Seasons Organic Kitchen; Chef Saifon pressed cane sugar drinks right in front of our eyes in a crusher sourced from Miami, making her signature drink. She then proceeded to hand grind sesame seeds as a final flavorful flourish on our dishes. While her food cost may be out of balance, it is to the benefit of the customer who can trust not even her soy sauce has preservatives or a drop of gluten.
On one side of the room is a huge bounty of endless fresh organic produce; many squash varieties, cabbage, kale, onion, winter melon and lemongrass….you can see her wheels turn as she chooses exactly what she wants you to try as if she has never quite made any dish this way before. She has handpicked these special ingredients for you today. She instructs you to put all the amazing vegetables into the pot to create a broth for the beautiful thinly sliced chicken, grass fed beef, shrimp and even scallops. As you eat, she explains how each vegetable benefits your body so you can’t help but feel like you are nourishing yourself and treating your body well.
As a single mom with two children, Chef Saifon seems to have found a balance that few chefs can claim. She doesn’t want to be “that chef” with glazed-over eyes who works 14 hours a day and goes through the motions not really experiencing life. Somewhere between her faith and obvious crazy love for her children and True Seasons, she seems to have it all. Her faith has brought her to her charitable work with The Free Pantry where she provides healthy, organic food to those who are less fortunate in a non-canned, non-processed manner. She sees that the snowball is forming as media and foodies and a possible second location all seem to be cropping up at once. It is commendable that she never hears customers say “too salty, too sweet, too this or that because it is all pure ingredients that speak for themselves”.
With a very genuine spirit, her parting words were, I know where my chickens come from and I know where my eggs come from. Honestly how many of us chefs can say that? This is a unique chef who delivers.
TRUE SEASONS ORGANIC KITCHEN
5675 E La Palma Ave, Anaheim, CA 92807
Mon. – Thurs. 11 am-9 pm
Fri. 11 am-9:30 pm
Sat. 12 pm-9:30 pm
Sun. 12 pm-9 pm
From the Chef’s Mouth
“Healthy is beautiful, eat a well-balanced diet. I don’t believe in diets that don’t allow you to eat or only allow juice. God didn’t design our body to only drink juice. A good diet is healthy eating and enjoying the food God made for our body. FOOD is healing medicine for our body. I love to eat and I love to try other chefs’ food. I love visiting other restaurants even though I get sick sometimes if I’m not careful. My recommendation is don’t eat all of your food when eating out — enjoy small bites.”
HOURS YOU WORK IN A WEEK 55-60.
1ST COOKING RELATED MEMORY I grew up on a farm in Thailand. I was fascinated by food and cooking right away, but my parents wouldn’t allow me in the kitchen (a cultural issue). I would watch my family’s helpers cook from afar and finally my parents allowed me to have a play cook set. I started growing my own vegetables and sharing the food I cooked with anyone I could to see if they liked it. Of course, they all said they loved it!
FIRST JOB Food Prep in a friend’s restaurant.
FIRST INTERESTED YOU IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY I love food, farming and all things relating to food.
HOBBIES Golf, yoga, walking at the beach. Always in “need” of a great massage!
FAVORITE KITCHEN TOOL My Knife.
FAVORITE KITCHEN APPLIANCE My Blender.
FAVORITE COOKWARE Anything stainless steel.
FAVORITE SPICE Lemongrass and sea salt.
FAVORITE RAW INGREDIENT Sugarcane
BIGGEST MYTH ABOUT WORKING IN THE
KITCHEN Because of TV, people think it has to be an angry, emotion-filled and stressful environment, when in fact it can be a peaceful, calm, professional space for a team to work together to create something great.
SIGNATURE DISH Spicy lemongrass soup.
FAMILY I’m the proud mother of two boys, Carlton (17) and Chandler (10).
FAVORITE OC RESTAURANT Mosaic at Montage Laguna Beach
CULINARY EDUCATION A Private tutor in Thailand
WORDS THAT BEST DESCRIBE YOUR CULINARY STYLE Organic, Spicy, Simple