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Jet Tila Is the Culinary Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand

He also holds a Guinness World Record for the longest sushi roll.

You may know Jet Tila from his numerous Food Network appearances on Iron Chef America, Chopped, and Cutthroat Kitchen; but that’s only the beginning of the Los Angeles native’s resume.

Jet Tilakamonkul, “Tila” for short, is part of the family that opened the first Thai markets and restaurants in Los Angeles. Tila’s enthusiasm for spreading his knowledge of and passion for Thai food has landed him the role of the inaugural culinary ambassador of Thai cuisine, a title bestowed to him by the Royal Thai Consulate-General.

Tila explains that his culinary ambassador role is to get people to explore Thai cuisine and learn more about the country. Tila is happy to add that Thai food is now the fourth most popular food in the United States. As for the authenticity of those Pad Thai noodles you picked up at a food hall for lunch? “I don’t fight the ‘A’ word,” says Tila. “I think it’s snobby to think there should be a standard. If people are enjoying the cuisine that’s good! I think there’s a spectrum of Thai food and I appreciate them all for what they are.”

Tila says that that bowl of Tom Yum Goong can lead to a lifelong appreciation of Thai culture and cuisine. “Food is a language that is non-political. Food is an experience that has multiple senses and, usually, those experiences are positive and it is the ultimate way to start the journey into someone’s culture.”

When he’s not serving as a culinary ambassador or filming a cooking show, Tila finds ways to break world records — like the 600-foot sushi roll he made with Purchase College students. The roll required 500 cups of vinegared rice, 800 sheets of nori, 125 avocadoes, and 200 pounds of surimi. Tila also holds records for the longest California roll and the largest stir-fry. “I’m always scouring Guinness and my partners are always wanting to break a record,” he says.

Tila explains his love of these record-breaking feats simply. “It’s really important for me to be first in a different way: to prove that I can do something. It’s a really nerdy way of saying, ‘hold my beer.’”

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Broken Palate
Broken Palate
Laine Doss