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.
Though they practically emptied out their two Philly restaurants to help them prep and cook at the most prestigious culinary address in New York, Boonphaya had to take time out from his intense work just before curtain to instruct the house servers on the exact nature of his dishes and how to perfectly pour soup out of glass infusers that had been keeping the liquid hot in the middle of each table. Then he had to push the dishes out and keep them coming: five hors d’oeuvres passed in the courtyard then five seated courses, from the meaty-tasting pea shooter with crème and sturgeon caviar to the supremely umami soup, curried ginger scrambled egg, a vegetable plate and fried chicken breast, all followed by coconut caramel ice cream served on the half-shell.
Wine flowed unabated with each course, having been selected by Philly journalist and wine connoisseur Brian Freedman, who favored Spanish vineyards for the majority of his pairings.
“These days, Spanish vintners are putting out very aromatic wines that are able to handle many diverse flavors in one dish,” he said.
After the meal, which occurred in the dining room of the Beard Foundation (formerly the cookbook author’s brownstone residence), the chef and his staff took bows and answered a few questions.
The answers were understandably brief. There was clean-up to do, after all, and drinks and hotel beds waiting.
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