Many area residents instantly recognize the distinctive violet-colored food truck with gold floral designs when it rolls into the parking lots of breweries and events around the area. They know it as Bee’s Thai Kitchen, a Thai food hotspot that’s welcomed whenever and wherever it appears. Chef Bee works from the truck’s galley, creating authentic dishes she first cooked with her mother at a market in Thailand.
Family was top of mind as we talked. Bee shared that her own mother didn’t want her daughter to follow in her footsteps because she considered it difficult and undignified. But as kids often do, Bee didn’t look at it the same way her mother did. Instead, she found it fascinating and fun. When it came time for her to earn a living, Bee considered her mother’s wishes. She tried to go into business in Thailand using an accounting degree her mother urged her to get. She found it uninspiring and hated it.
Bee met her husband, Kevin Kisich, in Thailand, and they moved to the United States with their two daughters, eventually settling in Lafayette. She began cooking almost as soon as she arrived here and has worked for a range of area Thai restaurants that diners would recognize including Aloy Thai and Busaba.
In 2021 Bee began working out of the truck. We spoke to her as she was serving customers at Industrial Revolution Brewing. The truck is a family affair and on the day we talked to her, Kisch had driven the truck to the location with their two daughters, now teenagers. They keep themselves busy in the parking lot, seeming to enjoy each other’s company.
As we speak, customers come to the window, and her daughters come back to the truck and jump into action at the grill so we don’t have to interrupt our conversation. Watching them cook as we talk, I wonder if this is how it must have felt to Bee sometimes, with her own mother at the Thai market all those years ago.
Over a food truck takeout box of perfectly grilled fat chicken skewers with fresh cucumber relish and some of the most delicious peanut sauce I’ve had in a while, we talked about what her daughters now think about what she does. “They really never believed I could cook,” she said and then smiled. “My mom was here, and I never felt like I could touch things in her kitchen. Now, finally, I can cook, and they know what I can do,” she opened up.
For Bee and Kisich, the truck is about bringing the most delicious Thai food to people in the area. It’s also a labor of love. We asked them for one word, just one, that they would use to describe the experience. Ever the driver, Kisich mentions the Partridge family. Once he’s said the single word, I prompt him to elaborate, and he describes scenes of a mother driving a bus full of family.
Bee struggled a bit for an answer. Just after I asked, she paused with a smile and a little bit of silence. After letting the silence stand for a moment, she responded with a single word: “wonderful.”
Articulating it succinctly was tough, and I thanked her. She nodded her head and said something like “of course” or “no problem,” then returned to the stove to serve the next customer.