Rising Star Chef Justin Pichetrungsi of Anajak Thai - Biography

Sherman Oaks, CA

May 2021

Justin Pichetrungsi grew up at the family restaurant that his father, Ricky, started in 1981. Ricky would send his 5-year-old son to run food, talk to customers, and learn the language of hospitality. As Pichetrungsi grew up, he cooked at the Sherman Oaks restaurant during the summer but really wanted to be an artist. He graduated from ArtCenter College of Design in 2008 and became an art director for Disney, still working nights and weekends at the restaurant. After a trip to Italy taught him the romance of wine, he curated an ambitious wine program at Anajak, sometimes telling Disney he had a work meeting when he was really at a tasting.

In 2019, his father suffered a stroke, and Pichetrungsi’s career swerved in a different direction. He quit Disney after 10 years and took over the restaurant with a new vision. Ricky had always wanted Anajak to be the neighborhood Thai joint, but Pichetrungsi built upon the loyal base with his personal spins: a Thai omakase menu, a dry-aged fish program, and a thoughtful, mostly natural wine list. As someone who was raised by the industry, he pours his energy right back into it with lots of chef collaborations and events—catering to a bustling crowd of chefs who love what the Pichetrungsis have built over 40 years.