David’s fascination with food dates back to 1949, when he and his parents moved to Port Washington, New York—next door to an elderly couple from Naples, whose children were grown, and loved to feed their little neighbor home-made Italian cooking. As for Pan, she grew up in the countryside of Udon Thani Province in Thailand’s Northeast (Isaan) region, where eating—and discovering wild edibles of the animal and plant kingdoms—is everybody’s favorite pastime, and a good cook is honored by all.

Back in the early 1970s, when David was traveling around Nepal doing photography for a magazine that never saw the light of day, and then around Thailand making TV commercials and exploring out-of-the-way places, he thought how great it would be if one of the peaceful and often beautiful little towns he visited could offer a really good meal. Even a Western meal, sometimes. With wine, too, why not?

He couldn’t get the idea out of his head, so when he and Pan moved out of the Big Bad Mango (Bangkok after Progress came) and settled on Ko Sichang, it wasn’t long before they started a restaurant. The first place had only three tables, but a great view.