Thidaphat Ariyahirantrakul (a k a Chef Chimme) is the executive chef and owner at Di Fiora restaurant, as well as a model and social media influencer. Di Fiora is a new Capitol Hill/First Hill restaurant that celebrates Asian cooking techniques with produce found in Washington. Learn about Thidaphat Ariyahirantrakul…
Hometown: Nakhonratchasrima, Thailand
First job: I got my first job when I was 16 years old. At that time, I worked as a model for a fashion magazine. I remember being so excited about getting such big money for the first time. I used my first earnings to get a set of Le Creuset for my mom. I was so proud of myself.
Favorite ways to spend your free time in WA: On the daily basis, I like to go to the gym at Bellevue Club or try new trendy restaurants in Seattle. Sometime, I do the road trip to a small farm to find fresh ingredients for my restaurant.
Your most significant accomplishment and why: The privilege of leading a phenomenal group of servers, bartenders, chefs, cooks, dishwashers and captains at Di Fiora. I would like to become an empowering woman who inspires the younger generation and show them they can do anything as long as they have goals and effort.
The biggest obstacle you overcame: Creating time for myself. Managing a restaurant requires hard work and dedication, including long hours and time away from the loved ones. Some people never knew about me before they saw me on social media. Some of them had already made a presumption and judged me that I can’t cook and question my career path. I chose to ignore them because I believe that the action speaks louder than words.
Someone who inspires you and why: My mom is a fighter and never gives up. She taught me how to cook with her secret recipes and gave me the best life. Even though I grew up poor, my mom tried every way to improve my life. I remember there was one day after I got back from school, I saw her crying alone in the laundry room. I suddenly asked her, “What happened?” She told me I was the best thing that she ever had in her life, and she smiled at me. Since that day, I started to think about my future because I didn’t want her to suffer anymore. Thanks to my mom, who I learned everything from. She is the one who helps shape me the way I am these days. I always look back at how far I have become, and I always tell myself never to give up.
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Set a goal. Always push yourself for personal growth and continue learning. I never stop researching, learning from others and challenging my knowledge and growth.
Favorite quote: “You were born an original, don’t become a copy!” –Coco Chanel
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I’m a model and social media influencer. Would you believe that a chef can be that stylish?