Thai-licious Thai Mama

July 13, 2011 |  by  |  Vendor Profiles

Lisa Barba is one happy girl.

Not only is she the talent and creativity behind Thai Mama, a Montavilla Farmers Market favorite, she is also living proof that working hard and following your heart go hand in hand.

Lisa’s delicious, locally-sourced, Thai cuisine arrived at Montavilla Farmers Market in 2010 after an encouraging recommendation from a friendly vendor. Every Sunday, Lisa dishes out authentic Thai dishes that blend the distinct flavors of Thai spices, and Portland’s cravings for fresh, local, and sustainable meats and produce. But according to Lisa, she couldn’t do it alone.

The inspiration for Thai Mama’s tasty creations comes from her mom, the original Thai Mama herself, and namesake to the flourishing, homegrown business. Lisa’s mom has been cooking simple, authentic Thai cuisine from scratch since she was a little girl in her native Thailand. Lisa says she couldn’t have the business without her, and gets all of her inspiration from the old school methods and flavors learned from her mom. “Her techniques don’t require a lot of fancy cookware or fast paced mixers, fillers, or substitutes. All of her recipes start from scratch and are made with a lot of time and patience, which is a virtue I have not quite mastered yet.”

Time and patience aside, Lisa seems to have mastered everything else, from fresh, homemade salad rolls with Thai basil and tofu, Pad Thai made with fresh tamarind sauce, and perfectly spiced, seasonal curries loaded with sustainable meats, tofu, and vegetables. Lisa also makes handcrafted wontons, golden egg rolls with sticky sauce, and a Thai salad with specially made peanut sauce good enough to make even the most unadventurous eater gleefully ask for more.

If you want to experience Lisa’s famously delicious Thai cuisine for yourself, you’d better arrive early. As soon as the opening bell rings for business, Thai Mama’s food cart is in full swing. And just in case you can’t make it to Sunday’s Montavilla Farmers Market, Thai Mama can be found at other markets and catering events in the Portland Metro area, so you can get your Thai fix all week long.

This busy schedule keeps Lisa on her toes, but in the end, she says it’s worth it, “l am proud of our quality of products and I am confident that it shows in our dedication and love of what we do for our customers. I believe our patrons are happy to buy food knowing that we make it and source our ingredients as local and sustainable as possible. When we see repeat customers again and again each week, that let’s us know that we are doing things right.”

Right as rain.  And here in Portland, that says it all.

Nicolette Smith


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