Circles chef Alex Boonphaya and his wife are tired. They’ve slept less than 90 minutes and they’ve just finished serving 70 diners out of a kitchen that’s not their own. But their first dinner at the James Beard House in Manhattan seems to have gone well and now they desperately need a drink … or a bed.
The Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market is a lonely place at midnight. And that’s just how Circles Thai chef/owner Alex Boonphaya likes it. The refrigerated temperature doesn’t phase him despite his short-sleeved t-shirt, and on this past Wednesday morning, he quietly looks over boxes full of colorful fruits and vegetables imported from around the world–trying to decide which will make the cut for his dinner at the James Beard House in Manhattan tonight.
To call Boonphaya unassuming is to speak a significant understatement. Though he continues to win “Best of Philly” awards and survived a year-long application process to cook at the famed Beard House, his manner is shy and his ego is most assuredly in check. As he ambles through the Essington Avenue warehouse, glancing frequently at a notebook where he’s written a meticulous shopping list, he thanks product runners graciously, simply answers “yes” to a cashier who asks if he’s a chef, and orders a humble tuna sandwich to go for dinner from the on-site diner.
“Chefs don’t eat very glamorously,” he says softly to a member of the three-person entourage who’s accompanied him on this evening’s errand.
For those who can’t make it to chef Alex Boonphaya’s James Beard House dinner next Thursday, August 14, the owner of the growing mini-chain of Circles Thai restaurants (and perennial Best of Philly winner) will host a preview at his Northern Liberties location tomorrow at 6pm. For $50 you can BYOB for six courses plus a pre-dinner sparkling wine (included) and hors d’oeuvre reception that spans the breadth of Thai cuisine.
Billed as the biggest celebration of craft beer in history, Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America is bringing its sudsy traveling circus to Penn Treaty Park on Saturday from noon to 5pm. To celebrate the opening of his first east coast brewery, Sierra founder Ken Grossman has invited all 2,700 U.S. craft breweries to participate in a cross-country beer festival that makes one of just seven stops in Philly.
By now, we’ve all done the restaurant week thing somewhere. And though it’s a creative and community-building concept, some of us have gotten over it. So it’s refreshing to see a new take on a what’s now an old idea.
Enter SJ Hot Chefs Farm to Fork week July 20-26. Yes, 45 South Jersey restaurants will offer discounted prix-fixe meals for $25 or $35. Yes, chef/owners and their PR people will brag about how fresh and local their produce is–which truth be told, is a foundational mission of the Hot Chefs consortium anyway. But this year, the public won’t just get to see and taste the freshness, they’ll get to be a driving force behind it.
Forgotten Boardwalk – the old-fashioned arcade-themed brewery that’s taking over the old Flying Fish space in Cherry Hill – is still waiting for the state to give it the green light to start producing beer. But co-owners Jamie Queli and Seth Dolled are tired of sitting around and want to throw a party NOW. So tomorrow, they’re hosting their first public event. Although there won’t be beer, there will be charity and games.
From 5-8 pm, they’re asking people to stop by for a little camaraderie and fun with food trucks while contributing to a canned food drive to benefit the Food Bank of Southern New Jersey. Head brewer David Bronstein has brewed a non-alcoholic lemonade for the occasion, with proceeds going to Sustainable New Jersey. And because the company’s logo is a feral cat, attendees are also encouraged to bring canned cat food for the Animal Adoption Center, a no-kill shelter in Lindenwald. If you plan to bring human food, the biggest need is for non-perishables like peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, tuna, breakfast cereal, canned vegetables, canned fruit and pasta.
You may remember a post I wrote a few months ago about Broken Goblet–a brewery that was getting ready to open in Bristol. More to the point, you may remember commenting on it, as several of you did. Well here’s hoping that you all show as much support for them in person as you did in the comments section because Broken Goblet is launching to the public with a party July 12. And though I haven’t met them personally, they do seem like a nice bunch of guys.
Isn’t it great when you can drink beer while supporting a good cause? Well, tomorrow at the Garden State Brewers Festival, you can support two good causes: the organization that works to promote and improve business conditions for New Jersey’s craft brewers AND preservation of the most decorated battleship in U.S. history.
The annual Garden State Craft Brewers Guild festival takes place tomorrow on the Battleship NJ in Camden, and more than 20 of the state’s breweries will be pouring. If you haven’t been to this festival, it’s a definite must. You get a free self-guided tour of the battleship then you get to hang out on one of the decks feeling the breeze and admiring the view of the city. A lot has been happening this year in Jersey beer so it’s also a good time to meet some of the new brewers (Paul Simmons from Glasstown and Jacqui from Rinn Duin among them) and sample their stuff.
Festival runs from 1-5pm; VIP session starts at noon.
Garden State Brewers Festival [Tickets here]
It’s about f-ing time.
After waiting for more than a year to receive a blessing from the City of Camden, Philadelphia homebrewer and Kentucky native James Yoakum is finally opening his distillery to the public tonight. Cooper River Distillers, located in an industrial building in (safe) downtown Camden, is the second distillery to open in New Jersey since before Prohibition.
Think you can run Reading Terminal Market’s demo kitchen? Then management wants to hear from you.
Seeking to change operators after a six-year stint by Anna Maria Florio and her culinary education company, La Cucina, RTM’s head honchos are asking the public for proposals for Kitchen @ The Market. They’re not sure if they want to stick with the current model under which the operator leases the space and independently runs its classes and private parties or if they want to bring the operation in-house to be run by a staffer or a consultant. So they’re asking qualified individuals and companies to submit proposals by May 16.