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Introduction: Our Story HANLOH was founded in 2017 by Lalita Kaewsawang in Santa Cruz, California. “Hanloh!” is a common greeting when Thai folks pick up the phone, reminding any emigrant – wherever they are – of home. Lalita recalls shouting “Hanloh!” over the payphone when she used to call home using a phone booth with a prepaid phone card. Lalita grew up in Nonthaburi, Thailand, a small city along Chaopaya river just north of Bangkok, and for as long as she can remember, she’s been thinking about food. Her earliest and strongest memories of Thailand are of the sound and smells of her grandmother pounding curry paste with stone mortar and pestle. Or, some days her grandmother would slip her two 10 baht coins and send her to eat around the block, choosing her dinner from one of the many street vendors. That’s when she really fell in love. A 10-year-old Lalita leaned over a khao mun gai (aka chicken-fat-rice) food cart. The sun was setting in the distance, and the street vendors were starting to get busy. She was mesmerized by the motions of the chef, and would sometimes just stand and watch. He was so efficient. Every ingredient was packed into the cart, always just enough for the evening rush. Lalita found herself returning again and again to the same cart. Day in and day out, the chef was always there, and the food was always the same – fresh, hot, made-to-order, and seasoned just right. Lalita grew to admire the khao mun gai chef, and the other street vendors. They worked hard in the muggy heat of Thailand, but they were also graceful. Precise. Flawless. One day she asked if she could “hang around” and help her favorite chef out, and he let her. She went home to tell her grandmother that night and she scolded at her. Being a food vendor is considered a low-end job in Thailand; her grandmother did not approve. When she was 13 years old, Lalita moved to America with her little sister. In high school, in Berkeley, California, Lalita started working at local Thai restaurants. Again, she looked up to the Thai and Laotian cooks she knew. They were strong, endured immense heat and pressure, and worked as hard as they could so they could send a little money home. As much as she admired them, Lalita thought of her grandmother, and was determined to get a good education so she wouldn’t grow up to be a cook. *** Even in college, Lalita still had food on her brain. She went to Wesleyan University in Connecticut, a small school with limited late-night food options. In her senior year, she started selling food out of her campus apartment. Just two dishes a night, a meat and a veggie option (it was Wesleyan, after all), and when she ran out, she closed up shop. And she always ran out. Word spread, and students started asking for more. She was not prepared to expand just yet, but she had got a taste for something… After graduating, Lalita moved to New Orleans to start a career in education, she worked with City Year and Edible Schoolyard. But it wasn’t long before she had slipped back into the culinary world in the Big Easy. She started to work as a prep cook, and then guest chef for Dinner Lab, eventually became Back of House Manager, Chef Liaison, then Market Developer. And then the Bay Area called her back… but she wasn’t home for long before she left again to apprentice at Grace in Chicago. Then, finally, she moved back to California, this time to Santa Cruz, and spent two years apprenticing at Manresa in Los Gatos. We are a small business. We cook with integrity. We love to create a menu that fit your need and budget.

Hired 2 times

Background checked

5 employees

3 years in business

Payment methods

Cash, Check, Credit card, PayPal

Social media

Facebook, Instagram

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18 photos

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Customers rated this pro highly for work quality, value, and punctuality.


2 reviews


Jocelyn S.

Personal Chef

Working with Lalita was a dream! She catered my birthday dinner for a small group of girlfriends at a getaway in Watsonville. Lalita was always very responsive to my inquiries and helped me craft an amazing menu for my budget. She was professional throughout my entire interaction with her. And the food!! We can't stop raving about the food. All the dishes she cooked for us were out of this world in terms of flavor and richness. The chicken wings were to die for! They were crispy and light, sweet and tangy -- probably one of the best Asian chicken wings I've ever had. The noodles were light and packed with fresh seafood. The panang curry with the coconut cream sauce was so rich and complex; all my guests said that was the best dish. Lalita's attention to detail was impeccable. Her service was attentive. She has a very sweet personality and we enjoyed talking to her about her food and her journey as a chef-entrepreneur. The dinner party went off without a hitch and we are grateful to have had Lalita be a part of it. I am definitely going to hire her again to cater dinners and parties for me. It was such a pleasure to work with Lalita.
HANLOH's reply
Thank you so much, Jocelyn, for this wonderful review! I was very happy to cook for you and your friends!
Jan 9, 2018
Michael p.

Personal Chef

Lalita and team are awesome! They prepared a 5+ course private dinner for 10 friends a few weeks ago and every course was phenomenal. Lalita worked with me to explain the options, pricing, and how she's typically done events like this. Once I came back with initial ideas, she talked through what combinations of dishes might be best, which dishes we might not want to pair together because they involved similar flavors, and how we could alter a few dishes to account for dietary restrictions. You can see what we went with in the attached menu. I struggle to call out favorite dishes as they were all truly unique and amazing - definitely not your run of the mill Thai. The mieng kham was really light and refreshing, the chicken wings were crisp, sticky moist and super-flavorful. The curry was unlike any I've had before, closer to a stew with a thicker sauce. The vegetables and the pear (desert) were fresh and perfectly (lightly) cooked. To top it off, Lalita and her server were incredibly nice and spent time explaining the dishes and answering any questions we had. Cannot recommend highly enough!
HANLOH's reply
Hello Michael, I can't say enough how kind this review is! Thank you so much. We were so happy to serve you and your friends!
Dec 7, 2017
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Lalita Kaewsawang


  • What should the customer know about your pricing (e.g., discounts, fees)?

    Drop-off catering on average is $15-$30 per person. An additional delivery fee may apply. On-site catering and dinner party on average is $30-$60 per person. An additional delivery fee may apply. Our pricing does not include any rental. We provide you with many options for you to build a menu that would fit your budget and needs.

  • What is your typical process for working with a new customer?

    We'd love to hear from you four to eight weeks in advance. You're more than welcome to contact us when you're in a pinch, we may be available!

  • What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

    Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos, CA 2015-2017 Grace Restaurant in Chicago, IL 2014 Dinner Lab in New Orleans, LA & San Francisco, CA 2011-2014 Bon Appetit Management Company in Middletown, CT 2007-2010

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