A dark red felt sign imprinted with “Wat Buddhapradeep â hangs from the canary yellow painted walls of the house. A range of vibrant green, orange and yellow desserts displayed on the table draw attention as one enters the temple courtyard. She orders the green curry, which brings back memories of her childhood and home from the first bite. Over the next 10 years, visiting Sunday food markets would become part of his weekly routine.
Nattakarn Scripetch, a regular Wat Buddhapradeep customer, started coming to the temple after craving authentic Thai food when moving to San Francisco. She began to go to food markets regularly and eventually began to volunteer at the temple.
âThe first time I came to eat the food was over 10 years ago, and I started volunteering five years ago. When I arrived I didn’t really know how to cook and wanted some authentic Thai food. I started to visit many Thai temples in the bay area. Then someone recommended that I come to this temple because it was closer to my house, âScripetch said.
Wat Buddhapradeep began in 1993 in Millbrae, California, with the goal of creating a community that reminds the founders of their home. In an attempt to develop their temple, the founders began by advertising their temple through local news channels. Since then, the temple has moved to San Bruno.
âWe started with the intention of building a temple in this city, in our new home. At first, we spoke with reporters from local news channels to get our names known. Sitthiporn Mitwichian, the abbot of the temple, said. âI also started posting meditations on TV, and after that many people knew about it and started coming to our temple. At that time, we started with 40 people, and it has continued to grow. “
When the temple needed to generate financial income to meet basic temple expenses and utilities, the temple began hosting food markets on Saturdays and Sundays with the help of volunteer chefs in the hope of ” increase income.
When I cook the food, I want the person to enjoy the food. Second, I want the food to be healthy. I really prioritize this and make sure that I would personally be happy to consume the food I serve â
– Thanakron Nopket
âIn Thai culture, food is very important, and it is also important to eat with family and friends. Thai food is also very popular with the general public, so we decided to organize these food markets to attract people. The money raised from the food is not for business, but all of the income goes to support the temple and donations, âMitwichian said.
Temple monk and senior chef Thanakron Nopket aims to create healthy but enjoyable dishes for customers.
âWhen I cook, I want the person to enjoy the food. Second, I want the food to be healthy. I really prioritize this and make sure that I personally would be happy to consume the food that I serve, âNopket said.
The high quality of these dishes is evident to customers, including Scripetch.
âI think all the food here is delicious. You really can’t find that quality or authenticity on the outside. Plus, you really know the ingredients are good and what goes into the dishes, unlike many other restaurants, âScripetch said.
Nopket began his culinary journey ten years ago when he had the opportunity to learn from another temple volunteer known for her Thai desserts. From that point on, his interest in Thai cuisine grew and he strived to master his cooking skills through YouTube videos, cookbooks and continuously learning from others.
âI am a monk here so I wanted to help raise donations to support the temple. I started by learning from people who knew how to cook here. One of the grandmothers is really good at making desserts, and she used to help make desserts for the food markets. As she got older, someone had to take over to continue the legacy. She ended up teaching me, and from there I started cooking and helping the temple until now, âNopket said.
The dishes produced each week depend on the ingredients available as well as the wishes of the customer.
âTo decide what I want to cook that day, I look at the market. Some dishes will be prepared weekly due to the high demand like pad thai, green curry, pad kra pow, fried rice, etc. Nopket said. âOther dishes will be rotated every week so that people don’t get bored, and customers can also request a dish, and I will if I know how to do it. “
While delicious food is an essential part of the success of the food market, the welcoming atmosphere is what attracts customers. For Scriptech, the warmth of the environment is what motivated it to keep coming back. Over the past 10 years, she has created a community that she considers her family at the temple.
âPeople come for the food. People come back because of the food and the warmth of the place. Everyone is super welcoming and super friendly, the food is great, and you appreciate the people around you too. You really can’t find a place like this, and it feels like you’re sitting down to eat with your family, âScripetch said.