LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Spending time with your mom on Mother’s Day is a great way to show her how much you care but sadly when your mother is no longer living, you have to find other ways to honor her.

Cooking and serving delicious Thai food is in Toby Mallas’ DNA. His mother was a motivated career woman and mom who never got to finish living out her dream.

“I like stirfrying ’cause it’s fast and fun,” Mallas says. (Credit: Toby Mallas)

For 21-year-old Mallas, running an award-winning restaurant is definitely not a flash in the pan. His passion for cooking can be attributed to her.

“Honestly, spending time with my mom here and working with her,” Mallas said. “It was so fun. I just liked being around her because I loved her obviously.”

Dee Mallas opened Lemongrass and Lime restaurant in 2018. (Credit: Toby Mallas)

Dee Mallas was the visionary of Lemongrass and Lime. A native of Thailand, she brought her culinary creativity and ambition to America to be successful in everything she imagined.

“She was a very driven person and just always motivated,” Mallas said.

His mom’s determined spirit made its mark on Toby when he and his twin brother, Pan, were in high school. Dee had beaten breast cancer and at the urging of her own mother opened her first Lemongrass and Lime restaurant in 2018. Toby shared her love of food.

Toby Mallas says he shared a love of food with his mother. (Credit: Toby Mallas)

“Every time we’d go to a restaurant together, my mom and I, we’d order something we like and just guess all the seasonings in it and see who could get the most.,” he said.

Their love of food games became a career calling for Toby when Dee’s cancer returned, and this time took her life. He decided he would carry on the dream his mom began.

“This one dish my mom, in particular, showed me how to make ’cause it was one of her favorites,” Mallas said. “I think she just liked how everything came together and she loved the presentation of it, too.”

The dish is khao soi, a coconut curry noodle soup.

From learning to master her best dishes to delivering good ol’ customer service, Toby trained with Dee as she prepared him for the days and years ahead without her.

“When she had cancer she treated every single day like it was a blessing. It was like, ‘Hey I woke up today and I’m gonna grind the whole day.’ She’s definitely still here, I can feel it and I know she’s still working too.”

Toby Mallas became interested in cooking by watching his mother prepare dishes. (Credit: Toby Mallas)

Toby says he’ll keep working to earn the titles of chef and owner his mom passed on to him.

“It just feels right. I just know I’m going down the right path in life.”