What Chopped Winner Nong Poonsukwattana Is Up To Now

One of the best simple pleasures out there? Watching a food-based reality TV show that promises you to transport you to a different world for a brief period, letting you forget your worries as you relax on the couch and root for your favorite contestants. A show that's managed to do this rather well is the competitive cooking program Chopped. As illustrated by the Food Network, the show's concept is pretty straightforward: four talented chefs battle against each other to emerge victorious after three stressful rounds. 

There's a lot of hard work involved in an episode of Chopped, too. It's estimated that the show's producers spend 18 long hours on each episode, for which there's a lot to be done: from preparing the baskets to briefing contestants and letting the judges do their jobs. Whew. 

One of the most interesting contestants ever to compete on Chopped, Nong Poonsukwattana competed during the show's 21st season and won her episode, impressing the judges with her talent (via Pop Sugar). She's been on an ambitious journey ever since.

Poonsukwattana is a fighter

Nong Poonsukwattana is a talented chef who's been working hard to make a name for herself. She's the founder of a food cart business called Khao Man Gai in Portland, Oregon, and is particularly known for her classic Thai-style chicken and rice dish. According to Eater, Poonsukwattana has her eyes set on expanding further into other cities and supplying her Khao Man Gai sauce across the country. The chef is also a James Beard nominee.

Poonsukwattana, an immigrant from Thailand, has an inspiring success story: she moved to the U.S. in 2003 and took time to perfect her skills, working at several eateries. "I always had big dreams when I was a kid," she recalled. "I always read about successful people on Earth like Napoleon, Einstein, Thomas Edison. I found one thing in common was one word in that book that said those people come from struggle." Poonsukwattana added that she could identify with this and hoped to be successful as an adult.

As per Thrillist, Poonsukwattana has indeed struggled during the pandemic like many others in the industry. "I felt prepared, but I wasn't," she revealed. "No one was because nobody had all the answers." Poonsukwattana added that she witnessed sales decline at a frightening rate and had to let go off some team members. Despite everything, the chef remains optimistic. "The number one thing is to find the silver lining every day and try not to stress," she added.