Chef Seng Luangrath of Thip Khao - Biography

Washington, D.C.

October 2018

Seng Luangrath began cooking at the age of 7 with lessons from her grandmother in Laos. In 1981, Luangrath and her family fled their home country for a refugee camp in Thailand. Luangrath became her family’s de facto cook, learning from women in the camp. Arriving in the United States in 1983, Luangrath spent a few years in California before moving to Northern Virginia in 1989.

Luangrath worked as a bank teller and an accountant, and later owned a flooring business with her husband, Bounmy Khammanivanh. Though successful, she found the business unfulfilling and began working part-time in 2007 to pursue her passion for cooking Lao food.

Luangrath took over Bangkok Golden in Falls Church in 2010, initially cooking Thai food but soon shifting focus to Lao cuisine. In late 2014, Luangrath opened Thip Khao in Washington, D.C. In June 2015, Luangrath was one of nine chefs to cook at a James Beard benefit for Women in Culinary Leadership Program. Later that year, Thip Khao was named one of “America’s 50 Best New Restaurants” by Bon App├ętit. In 2017, Luangrath founded the Lao Food Movement, through which she strives to preserve and uplift the cuisine of Laos. She has been a semi-finalist for James Beard’s “Best Chef, Mid Atlantic” in 2017 and 2018—the only Lao chef to do so.