The Dominion Post
TV show let friends share taste of Laos
Despite being geographically separated for much of their adult friendship, cooking duo Dai Phonevilay and Dal Philavong have kept in touch over their shared love of Laotian food, writes Sarah Catherall.
THEIR names are uncannily similar, they’re best friends and busy mums and both came to New Zealand as refugees from the same part of Laos. But when it comes to cooking together in the kitchen, Dai Phonevilay and Dal Philavong are absolute yin and yang. In person, too, the former My Kitchen Rules contestants are polar opposites. Sitting with her two-year-old daughter, Journey, Phonevilay is bubbly and does most of the talking for the cooking duo, while the quietlyspoken Philavong says: ‘‘I only say what I need to say.’’
As semifinalists on the debut My Kitchen Rules, and getting two 10/10s from the judges, the pair are in the throes of launching their first line of Laotian cooking sauces, Taste Laos. They’re also running cooking courses – on Friday, they taught participants at Wellington’s Social Cooking School how to make their Pork Larb and Sticky Rice dish, a version of the national Laos dish that earned them top marks on the television show.
They’ve got busy days ahead, with plans to officially unveil their cooking sauces, marinades and meal kits at the Wellington Wine and Food Festival next month. Based in Porirua, Phonevilay says: ‘‘I feel like I’m living the dream. I’m cooking with my best friend and we’re going into business together. We’ve got the recipe for success.
But it was Philavong’s idea to take their combined love of Laotian food and air their talent on television. Meeting as primary school students through the Laotian community, they became close friends as adults, and over the years they’ve shared a love of cooking.
Phonevilay made her first meal for her younger brother at the age of seven, eggs and sticky rice, while Philavong grew up regularly cooking stir-fries for