When you think of Thai food, the first thing that would likely come to mind for most Americans would be popular dishes like Pad Thai noodles or Tom Yum Goong (Spicy shrimp noodle soup). And these dishes would be served at their neighborhood Thai restaurants or listed on take-out menus posted on their refrigerators.
But Max Borthwick and his family are hoping to change that trend when it comes to the idea of quick and easy Thai cooking. The Borthwick’s are the creative and culinary force behind “Thaifusions”, a line of all natural and authentic sauces and curries based on their Thai heritage. But one with a twist.
“Thaifusions is our story, a fusion-family of cultures and backgrounds,” said Borthwick. “Our mom is from Thailand and my dad is American and by combining the best of both worlds, that inspired the name.”
Max’s mom, Toi, moved to the US from Thailand in 1970. Back then it was almost impossible to find fresh ingredients to make Thai dishes at local American grocery stores. So Toi decided to make her own right at home.
“My earliest memory of Thai food is my mom making sticky rice and roasting her own Thai chilis in our kitchen,” laughed Borthwick. “The dog would be going crazy and everyone is coughing so we would have to open up all the windows to get the smell out!”
That love for Thai cooking led Toi and her family to open a popular Thai restaurant near Downtown Seattle. It received high praise from publications like “Bon Appetit” for its curry sauces used in dishes served at Toi’s namesake eatery. The restaurant has since closed, but the Borthwick’s passion for Thai cooking continues and it inspired them to launch Thaifusions in 2008. Max said his family saw the need in the marketplace for authentic, quality Thai products. These products now include thei popular Panang Curry Sauce and Spicy Peanut Sauce, along with its sleeper hit, the Sweet Onion Chili jam.
“Only a few stores carry it but it’s the one we get the most inquiries about,” said Borthwick. “It’s similar to “Nam Prik Pao” as it’s called in Thailand and a secret ingredient in many Thai dishes. My Mom’s recipe for sweet onion chili jam has made it much more usable as an everyday condiment. It’s amazing with burgers as a bun jam.”
Thaifusions sauces and curries are now sold in grocery and specialty food stores throughout Washington, Oregon and California. The products are also available online and in Williams Sonoma stores nationwide.
Earlier this year, Thaifusions was accepted into the esteemed Chobani Incubator Project. This year’s cohort, consisting of 8 food and beverage start-ups from across the country, is the most diverse yet for the program. The goal of the project is to provide resources, guidance, and support to help businesses like Thaifusions grow and create a positive impact across the country and around the world.
“We’re incredibly thankful and fortunate to have been a part of the incubator project and are continuing to meet as a group with retail buyers,” said Borthwick. “Just this past October we met with H.E.B. and Whole Foods Market at their corporate headquarters in Austin. All the mentorship time, the programming, effort, investment and inspiration from the very top, Hamdi, Peter and everyone at Chobani have been so generous.”
Max said as a family, they are also constantly getting support and inspiration from each other including Max’s two-and-a half-year old niece Isla. He admits starting a family business has its challenges but in the end, it all comes back to why they launched this passion project. And that is to honor their family tradition and heritage and to pass on the love of authentic Thai cooking to home cooks everywhere.
“It’s not easy operating a family business,” said Borthwick. “But it’s really our strength and how we approach everything we do, which is to tell our family story and we take a lot of pride in that to honor the traditions our Mom raised us on.”
For more information on Thaifusions: www.Thaifusions.com.