Chef Shack in Thailand

Courtesy of Carrie Summer

You probably know that Chefs Lisa Carlson (above, left) and Carrie Summer (above, right) helm Chef Shack, one of the most creative and popular street food operations in the Minneapolis / St. Paul metro. You probably don’t know that as we struggle to keep our sidewalks and cars shoveled and de-iced, the duo travels the world in search of culinary inspiration. At the moment, they’re in Thailand.

Chef Summer writes:

“Thailand has been beautifully superb as usual. We’re feeling rested and fortunate to travel again this winter. The cuisine of Thailand is so good and fresh, everyone cooks from scratch, and markets are full of produce and mise en place. Fish and fermented fish are central to Thai food, as are lime, sugar, ginger, lemongrass, and curry pastes. Most of the pictures I sent were from the Thai islands here in the Gulf [of Thailand] called Koh Tao and Koh Phangan islands. We’re chillin’ for 1 more week in Thailand, then we’re off to southern India!”

Of the photo above and to the right, she notes: “This is typical of Thailand. Stunning beaches and food everywhere, especially restaurants on a stick from the mountains, trains, streets to the surf. Inexpensive and deliciously fresh.”

Courtesy of Carrie Summer

Left: “Traditional Pad Thai. This was Chef Carlson’s pick of best dish so far on our journey. Perfectly fresh cooked shrimp, pungent fish sauce, squeeze of lime, Thai chillies, peanuts and excellent noodles!”

Right: Glass noodle seafood salad. Asked whether we’ll see Thai dishes appear at Chef Shack, Summer writes: “While we adore Thai cuisine, I think flavors, rather than entirely Thai dishes, will continue to show up on our menu… i.e: ginger, chillies, lemongrass, lemon leaf, etc.”

Courtesy of Carrie Summer

“Thai beaches are spectacular!”

Courtesy of Carrie Summer

Left, a Thai flower. Right: “Seafood… so fresh and abundant. Enjoying it raw, pickled, and especially grilled!”

Learn more about this business in Heavy Table’s Atlas of Ethical Eating and Drinking.


  1. Midwesterner

    Great vacation photos and happy they are enjoying it, but not exactly focused on locally-sourced Midwestern foods and how to best prepare them. We’re a long way from fresh seafood around here.

  2. geoff

    Please don’t take such a narrow focus. Lisa and Carrie are EXTREMELY important players in shaping the future of our culinary scene here in MSP. They’ve been instrumental not just via their great Chef Shack street food (which is a way of life in SE Asia), but in pushing to relax existing (draconian) anti-street-vendor local legislation. You’ll certainly see an improvement in the quality of streetfood (and life) here as a result of the vacation they are currently taking.

  3. Dave

    Nice photos. I feel a bit warmer and a bit jealous while viewing them. Can’t wait to taste what they’re cooking up this summer.

  4. Pamela

    I wish I was stalking these two right now. Can’t wait for spring, I will be 1st in line!!

  5. Rashmi

    I agree with Geoff. I think the city of mpls should be more lenient and embracing of street food vendors. why are they so scared? as if people will die after eating street foods. anyways, i can’t wait to be back at millcity farmers market this season.

  6. noodleman

    (Where did Midwesterner ever get the idea Heavy Table was only about locavore dining?) I, too, would like to see more street vendors. It is the way of life in SE Asia, and compatible, too, with our own on-a-stick tradition.

  7. Nenox

    Instrumental in shaping the culinary scene in MSP? Mini donuts, hot dogs, and grilled corn do not shape culinary scenes. If they reduce restrictions on street vendors then we are going to see a huge influx of local ethnic populations like, hmong, somali, and latin americans making their extremely delicious street food at half the price of the chef shack. I am surprised that they would work to create a system that would allow others to beat them at their own game and hurt their bottom line. After all “chefs” do love their vacations…

Comments are closed.