Satay owner stays current as Thai scene she helped create matures

By Claire Canavan – Special to the Austin American-Statesman

In 1987, when Dr. Rommanee “Foo” Swasdee opened her upscale Thai restaurant Satay, she was a culinary pioneer.

Southeast Asian food was scarce in Austin at that time, but in recent years Thai restaurants have multiplied, with newcomers like Sway and Spin Modern Thai bringing new energy and technique to the cuisine.

Amidst the changing food culture of Austin, Swasdee, a 65-year-old with the energy of someone half her age, is determined to keep innovating.

Hailing from Bangkok, Swasdee faced challenges from an early age. When she was a teenager, a fire ruined her family’s home and destroyed most of their possessions. After that, all six family members had to live in one room, and as the oldest of four children, Swasdee was expected to contribute to the family’s income.

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