July 23, 2019 – Glenn and Kitja Walker spent nearly 30 years following his military career around the United States and overseas, but now they’ve settled down in Monterey and are starting a farmers’ market food business called Kitja’s Kitchen with plans to launch a food truck named One Night in Bangkok early next year.
“I love to cook and have been saying since the day I was born that I wanted to have a restaurant,” Kitja told EMB at a tasting party with Brooks Wine last weekend. “But that requires a big investment, so we decided to order the truck.”
Meantime the Walkers have been making a splash with their authentic Thai street food at the Tuesday afternoon farmers’ market in Downtown Monterey. And they recently began selling their food at the Sunday morning Carmel Valley market and the Oldtown Salinas market on Saturday mornings.
Dishes like satay with peanut sauce, pad Thai and egg rolls are on offer and customers really love the fresh green papaya salad with coconut rice.
“We enjoy being a husband and wife working together,” says Kitja. “It’s kind of fun because he’s used to being a commander and now he’s a sous chef and has to take orders from me in the kitchen, but the best part is that we’re together.”
The couple, who have three grown children, actually met in Monterey as students and always dreamed of moving back. As a military family, they became accustomed to moving somewhere new every three years. Kitja stayed busy raising her family and occasionally teaching cooking classes to other military wives.
Two years ago, when Glenn retired, they headed back to Monterey and say it feels like home. This year they started looking for a way to work together.
“Kitja has a real passion for cooking and carrying on the traditional recipes she learned from her grandmother as a child,” says Glenn.
“Her food is a true authentic representation of what you would find in Thailand, if you were lucky enough to convince them that you wanted real Thai food,” he says.
In addition to working the farmer’s market, Kitja’s Kitchen offers catering service for special events and is in the process of setting up a weekly meal delivery service.
Some of the wonderful dishes we tried at the tasting last weekend are representative of their catering menu and paired well with the Oregon wines poured by Janie Brooks Heuck, managing director of Brooks Wine.
While it’s sometimes hard to match wines with Asian food, Brooks 2016 Hope Well Riesling, for example, paired perfectly with Kitja’s Tom Kha Koong coconut milk shrimp soup. While a selection of pinots tasted marvelous alongside dishes like Graprow (spicy chicken with basil) and Yum Nuea (beef salad).
Kitja’s talent in the kitchen and Glenn’s flair for hospitality were on display throughout the event—a winning combination for a pair of food entrepreneurs just starting out on a new adventure.
Deborah Luhrman is publisher and editor of Edible Monterey Bay. A lifelong journalist, she has reported from around the globe, but now prefers covering our flourishing local food scene and growing her own vegetables in the Santa Cruz Mountains.