by Jennifer Thomas
Chef Jet Tila — known for his appearances on Cutthroat Kitchen, Iron Chef America, and Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations — is joining forces with Dallas’ celebrated Apheleia Restaurant Group as chef-partner of Thai eatery, Pakpao.
“Tila’s expertise in Thai cuisine makes him the perfect chef to take the next steps in the evolution of modern yet authentic food at Pakpao,” says Richard Ellman, co-owner along with his wife Tiffanee of Apheleia Restaurant Group.
A member of “Team Tila” (which consists of Jet and two of his protégés) will be ever-present at the Dallas Design District restaurant, starting later this month. The team will guide changes to the existing menu and add some of Tila’s signature dishes such as Khao Soi Noodles, Sticky Rice with Mangoes, Moo Palo (five spiced pork belly), and Roti Dessert (Indian flat bread with coconut ice cream and condensed milk).
“Pakpao already does an amazing job with creating authentic Thai food,” Tila says. “I will be infusing regional dishes from the North, Isaan, and Bangkok, along with helping to promote the brand and expand Pakpao’s influence on the Texas dining scene, which is one of the fastest growing in the country. It’s tremendously exciting for me to be a part of it.”
Growing up in L.A.’s Thai Town, home to the largest Thai population outside of Thailand, Tila spent time learning the ancient traditions of Asian cuisine while working in his parent’s famed Bangkok Market and Royal Thai restaurant. Although Tila’s culinary curiosity has allowed him to experience multiple endeavors from opening Wazuzu at the Wynn Las Vegas to partnering with Compass Group, he has always remained deeply rooted in his Thai background. Tila has become such a fixture in the Thai/American culture that he was recently appointed by the Royal Thai Consul-General, Los Angeles to represent Thai culture in the United States as the inaugural Culinary Ambassador of Thai Cuisine.
Tila also shares his culture and culinary expertise by leading intimate “Melting Pot Tours” of Thai Town in Los Angeles, offering participants a curated taste of his favorite hidden neighborhood gems. It was while guiding one of these tours that he met Richard and Tiffanee Ellman, and they bonded over their shared passion for real Thai flavors and a mutual love of quality ingredients. The relationship continued and has now culminated in a true partnership, debuting in Dallas this spring.