Meet the Thai chef putting an Asian twist on crispy fried chicken in Trinity Leeds

Born on a paradise white island in southern Thailand, chef Tikk developed a love for food at a young age.

The 40-year-old, real name Teerasak Poolsawat, is the founder of street food joint Tikk’s Thai Kitchen and a spin off venture, Yoi Pan-Asian Fried Chicken.

Tikk grew up in a foodie family - his parents ran a busy night restaurant in Koh Samui.

He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “From a young age I would lend a hand in the kitchen, preparing and cooking dishes while learning traditional recipes and techniques along the way.

Tikk is the founder of street food kitchen Yoi Pan-Asian Fried Chicken, which has landed at Trinity Leeds (Photo: Tony Johnson)

“I think the first dish I made was fried rice. I used to cook this for my younger siblings when my parents were busy in the restaurant and I now cook this regularly for my two kids.”

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Tikk worked at his cousin’s beach resort after leaving school, whipping up meals and catching fresh fish on the family boat.

After meeting his English wife, the couple moved to London where Tikk got a job as a pot wash in a busy restaurant.

Customers have praised Tikk’s friendly hospitality and they kept the business going through the pandemic (Photo: Tony Johnson)

Tikk said: “My boss quickly realised how hard I worked and offered to train me to become a chef.

“The style of food was modern British and European and I trained in all sections - cold, hot starters, mains and desserts.”

“I have always wanted to have my own business,” Tikk added.

In 2013, he founded Tikk’s Thai Kitchen after relocating to Yorkshire, serving authentic recipes from southern Thailand.

Tikk has taken his truck to festivals, street food markets and weddings across the region, with customers returning week after week to try his flavour-packed food.

Tikk said: “I love that Thai food has big flavours and is clean, not too oily, as well as fresh and spicy.”

The best-selling dish was always Tikk’s fried chicken, which sparked the idea for a new business.

Yoi Pan-Asian Fried Chicken launched in Trinity Kitchen in 2018 - and now it has returned back to where it all began.

One of the new vendors in the food hall’s bespoke vans, Yoi’s menu includes Thai crispy chicken satay bao buns, a Korean crispy chicken Gochujang burger and a Japanese tofu burger - all served with fries.

“It’s so different from a lot of the other fried chicken businesses who use buttermilk,” Tikk added.

“It’s a lot lighter and crispier and we brine the meat which gives it so much more flavour and keeps it juicy and tender.

“We still wanted to offer Asian flavours and that’s how we decided on pan-Asian fried chicken.”

Customers have praised Tikk’s friendly hospitality and they kept the business going through the pandemic.

With festivals, weddings and events cancelled overnight, Tikk and his team would deliver meals across York every Friday.

At one point, they were delivering more than 150 orders every week.

Tikk said: “The biggest challenges of the job are the long hours and stress during busy periods.

“But I love to hear people enjoying my food, and seeing my customers returning week after week.”