Chef Ratha Chau of Numpang Sandwich Shop - Biography

New York, NY

September 2010

Ratha Chau was born in Phnom Peng, Cambodia in 1971, during the rise of the Khmer Rouge regime. The Chau family fled the violence in their homeland in 1982 and settled in the United States. Chau attended Clark University in Massachusetts, and then worked in various front of the house positions in Boston before he moved to New York. He was a manager in a number of well-regarded restaurants including Blue Water Grill, Asia de Cuba, and Fleur de Sel, where he became a general manager and partner.

With years of restaurant experience under his belt, Chau decided to open his own restaurant, Kampuchea, in November 2006. But this time he wasn’t in his usual front-of-the-house spot, but behind the stoves. In all of his years of restaurant experience, Chau had never even boiled water on a commercial stove. But Kampuchea was his own. So he stepped forward into the chef’s role and designed and executed a modern Cambodian menu with great success.

Chau’s second project was inspired by the cult following that developed for Kampuchea’s num pang, the Cambodian term for “bread” or “sandwich.” In March 2009, Chau, Partner/Co-Executive Chef Scott Burnett and Co-Owner Ben Daitz, opened Num Pang Sandwich Shop near Union Square in Manhattan.