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.
Last week, our own Iron Chef, Jose Garces, hit the James Beard House in New York to cook a dinner in support of his new cookbook, The Latin Road Home. And while we weren’t able to get to the Beard House ourselves, we did get our hands on some pictures taken by Jeff Gurwin who was there to capture all the action.
Check out the snaps after the jump.
Tasting menus with beverage pairings are popping up all over the place. They pose as creative outlets for awesome chefs trying to add some pizazz to their routine lives of menu classics. They provide insight into the chef’s mind and palate, and at the same time, create a unique dining experience for the customer enjoying them. It’s tug-o-war, a mini game of cat and mouse, encompassed by a coursed out menu of food and drink, and we’ve all come to love it.
There have been Thai tasting menus, and high-end collaborative tasting menus, but I’ve never seen a tasting menu/beverage pairing come out before 5 p.m. That is, until Sunday, March 3rd, at the James Beard House in New York, where Pat Szoke will be cooking up a mighty fine brunch, beverage pairings included.
Jeremy Nolen and his crew from Brauhaus Schmitz brought their modern German cuisine to the James Beard House on Saturday for a 6 course Teutonic extravaganza that had the well-heeled Manhattan crowds snuffling up everything from blood sausage and parsnips to cherry strudel and ice wine sabayon. From what we understand, the event itself was amazing, and lucky for us COOK photographer and Friend of Foobooz, Yoni Nimrod, was there to document it all.
Check out some of his snaps after the jump. And if they happen to pique your appetite, don’t forget that Herr Nolen will be hosting a class on modern German cuisine at COOK on Monday, February 18, and tickets are still available.
Cooking at the James Beard House is no small thing. It takes a lot of work (and a lot of money) to put those plates on the table–as chef Jeffrey Power and his crew from Dettera would be the first to tell you. Here’s a quick peek at how it looks from the inside.
Dettera [Official website]
Video courtesy Peter Breslow
The Aikens twins, Tom (who has his own restaurants in London) and Robert (The Dandelion, right here in Philly), are cooking a special one-night-only collaboration dinner tonight at the James Beard House in New York. They’re doing a 6-course meal of poached pigeon consomme with truffles, pan-seared sea scallops with black pudding, brussels sprouts leaves and beef-Guinness jus and other complicated, very English-y stuff. Which basically means that they’re busy. And yet, it appears that they had time to answer questions about a bunch of weird English food terms for Starr TV (Stephen Starr’s Youtube channel).
So if you don’t know your treacle from your bubble and squeak, it’s worth checking out. The most surprising thing? They managed to get through the whole interview without making a single spotted dick joke.