Born in Cambodia and raised in Yugoslavia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and France, Nadsa de Monteiro draws on her international background for inspiration in the kitchen. She is passionate about creating good food and inspiring Americans to expand their palates. She wants them to try the unexpected flavors she has known since childhood. As a young girl, she learned to appreciate her mother’s expert cuisine, but had little interest in cooking. That changed when she began living on her own and discovered how much she enjoyed sophisticated food. Working with her mother, garnering her advice during many long phone calls, she learned to cook out of necessity. The family’s decision to open The Elephant Walk restaurant in Somerville changed Nadsa’s life and altered her career path. She began to cook at The Elephant Walk in 1992. Under the watchful eye of her mother, Nadsa trained as Sous Chef. Soon, she and her mother began to experiment, moving their cuisine well beyond traditional Cambodian fare. Nadsa became Executive Chef of The Elephant Walk in Boston when it opened in 1994. Nadsa takes particular delight in combining unexpected flavors to create new dishes. She compares running the restaurant to putting on a new Broadway show every night; it is performance art that is exciting, but demanding. Like her mother Longteine, Nadsa is largely self-taught. She has also studied with Michelin Chef Yves Thuries in Cordes, France, and at The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But clearly, the most important influence in her kitchen is Longteine, a chef she describes as “still the best”.