Tam Rachatanavin was born in Chicago and moved to San Antonio, Texas at age 12. His parents opened a Thai restaurant in San Antonio when he was 13. “I worked there my whole life, until I came here to open my own,” recalled Rachatanavin.
Tam also met his wife, Nancy in San Antonio. He said they actually knew each other since high school and ran in the same circle of friends. After high school, he studied Biology at the University of Texas at Austin, but discovered in 2003-04 that medical school wasn't in his future.
In 2004 he was ‘sent’ to Carbondale to open Thai Taste. At that time he had a number of friends from San Antonio living in Carbondale who attended SIU. The timing was right — he needed a career and they needed jobs. Also at that time, there was a Thai Buddhist monastery in Carbondale. The same people that ‘sent’ him here were in charge of the monastery. It was intended that he come to Carbondale to open a restaurant and help support the monastery. Those same friends that were living here were also the group who oversaw and maintained the temple. They built upon that community and had a foundation in which to support the monastery.
The largest hurdles in the beginning of starting Thai Taste were the sudden surges in responsibility. Tam was responsible for not just himself, but a staff and a business.
Tam says Thai Taste has survived the last 15 years in business because he never gives up and never backs down. “Whether Southern Illinois is booming, or becoming like it has been recently, we keep pushing through. Obviously, we make adjustments to it, but we keep on keepin’ on. As I've once been told, ‘If you book the bands, they will come’,” explained Rachatanavin.
Tam and his wife, Nancy, live in Carbondale with their two boys, who are 8 and 5 years old.
1. What is your current state of mind? Hmmm — that's a hard question. I'd say a relaxed preoccupation. Is that a contradiction?? LOL
2. What is your favorite avocation/hobby? Well, aside from binge watching TV and sleeping, I LOVE reading.
3. If you could go back in time 1,000 years, what year would you visit and why? If it's gotta be exactly 1,000 years to 1019, then I'd love to see what Carbondale was like then. Right here — this very spot where I live. I'd love to see what the native residents were like, what they did, how they lived. No roads, no buildings, no loud trains, LOL.
4. What is your most treasured possession? I would have to say my friendships and bonds. Those are my most valued possessions and they're intangible.
5. If you could rid the world of one disease what would it be? Besides cancer? I'd have to say Multiple Sclerosis and every other disease of the CNS.
6. What is your most obvious characteristic? I've been told I have a strong RBF (Resting [expletive] Face)
7. Which words or phrases do you over-use most? I tend to respond to all kinds of news with, ‘Are you [expletive] serious?!’
8. If you were to die and come back as a person or animal, what do you think it would be? Probably a person and probably one of my own descendants.
9. What is one thing you refuse to share? Not that it's ever come up, but a toothbrush. Yeah, I'll share most anything else, but if you use my toothbrush, it's yours now. (Laughing)
10. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? Hmmm. Power of Suggestion — Kilgrave-style — from Jessica Jones. Google that if you don't know, people! That would make almost any other power unnecessary.
11. What song would you sing for your American Idol audition? Well I don't sing (in public), but probably "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire.
12. If you could start a collection of one kind of item, what would it be? Back in college I would buy cheap, Chinese-made knock-offs of famous swords from television and movies, to the point where my parents asked me to stop. So I guess there's that.
13. If you were given the chance to run for mayor of your city, would you take it? NO, thank you!!
14. What is your favorite smell? Butter, melting and sizzling in a pan.
15. What is the last book you read? "Ghost in the Wires" by Kevin Mitnick. Currently I’m reading "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson. It was written in 2003, so it's painfully outdated, especially in the sections about space exploration and subatomic particles.
16. What was your favorite color of Crayola crayon growing up? Yellow — plain old yellow. Something about that color is just so warm and comforting.
17. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be? Probably something like "The Man Who Never Grew Up". Yeah, that sounds about right.
18. What bad habit do you have that you know you need to break, but don't really want to? Hitting that snooze button — repeatedly.
19. If you had to choose to live without one of your five senses, which one would you give up? Smell, without a doubt.
20. What skills do you possess that could help you survive the zombie apocalypse? Apparently, I can cook. Also, I have a collection of bladed (and other) weapons. See above answer No. 12. I'm also delusional enough to think that I'm tough enough to survive it. Power of the mind, right? But I'll probably just end up sleeping through it.
21. What is your personal motto? Leave arrogance at the door. There's always someone smarter or stronger than you. Never stop trying to better yourself.