Chef at Thai restaurant in Randolph receives James Beard Award as best in Northeast

  • Chef Nisachon “Rung” Morgan, left, laughs with bartender, waiter and host Malikai Smith at Saap in Randolph, Vt., on Wednesday, May 20, 2022. Morgan is a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in the Northeast.(Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/14/2022 3:41:40 PM
Modified: 6/14/2022 9:46:02 PM

Nisachon “Rung” Morgan, chef at the Randolph Thai restaurant Saap, has won a regional award from the James Beard Foundation, naming her the top chef in New England.

The awards were announced Monday night in Chicago. Efforts to reach Morgan and her husband, Steve Morgan, who were in Chicago for the gala ceremony, were unsuccessful.

The Morgans have run the restaurant since 2014. Rung Morgan prepares dishes from Isaan, in northeastern Thailand, an uncommon emphasis among American restaurants serving Thai food. The Morgans regularly drive to Burlington and Boston for ingredients.

Rung Morgan won the award over four other chefs, three of them working in Portland, Maine, and one in Boston. Another of the chefs, Vien Dobui, is the founder of Cong Tu Bot, a Vietnamese restaurant in Portland.

Morgan won the award for the Northeast, which comprises the six New England states. New York State has its own James Beard award, as do 10 other regions.

How Saap, a 45-seat restaurant in a converted Victorian home will handle its newfound fame remains to be seen.

Steve Morgan told the Valley News recently that just being nominated by the James Beard Foundation would have a positive effect on the restaurant, in terms of what it could offer.

“It kind of changes the game when you win this type of accolade,” he said. The nomination meant patrons would be more likely to try dishes they hadn’t encountered before, he said.

Having won the award, that might go double.

Alex Hanson can be reached at or 603-727-3207.

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