Meet the Thai chef and Instagram star bringing her flavour-packed dishes to homes across Leeds
When Thai chef Marni Xuto moved to Leeds two decades ago, she struggled to find the ingredients to recreate her favourite dishes from her home city of Bangkok.
Inspired by the produce on offer in Yorkshire, she began to put twists on traditional Thai food using local ingredients from her greengrocer.
Her ventures in the kitchen sparked the idea for her food blog Thai Food Made Easy, launched in 2017, where Marni shares her simple recipes and cook-along tutorials.
Boasting an impressive 14,000 followers on Instagram, Marni's tasty dishes and bubbly personality have been a hit with home cooks looking for inspiration during lockdown.
Marni, 46, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I was born in Bangkok, where it’s bustling and vibrant and there are so many street food vendors open until the early hours.
"I grew up trying the vast array of food there, from curry and noodles to Chinese and Indian food."
Marni worked as an air stewardess where she got the chance to travel the world, trying new flavours in the countries she visited.
“I used to travel to Singapore, China and Japan and I worked on a cruise ship around the Caribbean," Marni added.
"We travelled to the small islands where I got to taste the fresh fish, really appreciating the different cuisines.”
When Marni moved to Leeds in 2003, she found it difficult to find Thai ingredients and the idea for Thai Food Made Easy began to develop over the next decade.
Her vast collection of free recipes now includes classic Thai curries, teriyaki salmon, superfood vegan Thai burgers and speedy spaghetti with creamy peanut sauce.
Marni said: “I adapted whatever I had access to from local greengrocers and I mashed it up to create food that reminded me of my hometown.
"People are very clever now, you can grow pak choi in the UK and chillies in your kitchen, but there weren't as many oriental supermarkets when I moved to Leeds.
“My cooking is Thai-inspired food that's good for the soul, using ingredients that are easily accessible here. It’s definitely tasty and it’s doable, it was important to have something easy for people."
Marni has expanded her business over the last year, cooking for private events and collaborating with brands including kitchen giants Kenwood.
She teamed up with the Great British Food Festival during the first lockdown to launch CookalongLive, which gives budding chefs the chance to host virtual cooking classes.
Marni added: "When people were stuck at home and restaurants closed, it brought the community together and kept people going.
“It was my proudest moment, helping bring food lovers together so they felt connected again. And we were able to give talented cooks the platform to move up and become chefs.”
Marni has recently been asked to join the new subscription cooking platform My Chef Skills, which will offer tutorials from chefs including Leeds' own Matt Healy, Great British Bake Off's Karen Wright and Masterchef's Philli Armitage-Mattin.
“All of a sudden, everything has just taken off which is amazing," Marni said.
“Since I moved to Leeds, so many people have given me opportunities to grow. It really is my home now.”
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.