Melissa Elsmo

After a bout of homesickness inspired her to learn to cook the dishes she grew up on, Vickie Resnick, dedicated all her spare time to cooking and crafting quality Thai meals and snacks. Today, Resnick is the mastermind behind Khoatha Cafe-Puffs Parade and the dedicated wife and mother is bringing her karipop dreams to life.

Karipop or spiral curry puffs are a street food enjoyed throughout Southeast Asia. The pastry packages are known for their signature spiral edges and are crafted using a duo of doughs. The resulting curry puffs traditionally feature a savory chicken and vegetable filling, but can be stuffed with a wide array of sweet and savory fillings.

“Everyone knows what an empanada is; everyone knows what a samosa is,” says Resnick matter-of-factly, “and I want these curry puffs to be as familiar to people as empanadas and samosas one day.”

After moving to the United States from Thailand in 2009, Resnick, who was settling into life  in a new country with her husband, began feeling wistful about her favorite childhood foods. Unfortunately she lacked the practical skills to curb her cravings. After completing her studies at a Thai university, Resnick worked in a hospital office with a grueling 24-hour schedule and her family always had home-cooked meals waiting for her when she returned home. As a result, Resnick was well fed, but could cook little more than omelets and rice on her own.

Flooded with a sense of nostalgia, she turned to Google and began a truly 21st century culinary self-education; the passion driven home cook taught herself to make the foods she missed by watching on-line videos. She first made a hot and sour Tom Yum soup and the memories of her life in Thailand came racing back. After her soup success, Resnick confidently taught herself to make an array of Thai recipes including complex curry puffs.

Resnick’s karipop are all made by hand; the outer dough is made with flour and water, while the inner dough is made from oil and flour. The doughs are then carefully combined, rolled and re-rolled to create an ultra-flaky pastry crust.

Resnick makes more than eight fillings for the puffs ranging from curried chicken to sweet coconut and even seasonal Door County tart cherry. She worries she’ll get bored, so she is always looking for the next memorable filling combination for her puffs. Her most recent creation is made from delicate egg yolk thread and raisins.

No matter the filling Resnick’s karipop are always finished with a hand crimped edge. Although there are pre-made presses available to help shape and seal the curry puffs, Resnick prefers to hand-roll, fill and seal the edges with her signature decorative flourish. The process is time consuming, but Resnick is sensitive to her family’s needs and manages her time as best as she can.

“We’re incubating a business here,” says Ron Resnick, “I have been encouraging my wife to make the puffs because of the attention and support she gets for making this product.”

Resnick’s husband recollects the first time his wife’s curry puffs made an impression. After marrying, the couple connected quickly with a supportive community of Thai women with American husbands. The group of friends would frequently throw summertime house parties.

“All the men would be outside drinking beer and watching football,” laughs Ron Resnick, “and all the women would be in the kitchen cooking Thai dishes together.”

The cooking environment was a little competitive as everyone involved was keen on showing off their best recipes. When Resnick made her puffs for the first time her friends were impressed with the quality product.

“My friends couldn’t believe it and they are always asking me to make them,” says Resnick, “ and now curry puffs are my signature dish and I feel like there is  some real momentum to this.”

Today Resnick cooks out of the Sugar Beet Schoolhouse in River Forest and currently makes 300-500 of her signature puffs per week while her daughter, Esther, attends preschool. The majority of the puffs are sold to restaurants in Naperville, Chicago, and Skokie. One restaurateur even travels more than 100 miles to pick up the puffs for his restaurant in Rockfalls, IL.

While Resnick is careful not to overextend herself, she is interested in expanding her relationships with restaurants in the area and wants to participate in local pop up events—especially those held at Sugar Beet Schoolhouse.

Locals looking for a Puffs Parade fix can place catering orders by sending an email to service@khaothacafe.com. A minimum order of 50 puffs is required and they can be purchased frozen and ready to cook or ready to eat. Grab a few of your friends and place an order to share; I love having Resnick’s karipop in my house!

Khoatha Cafe-Puffs Parade is one to watch!

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