chefs

INTERVIEW: CHEF BOBBY PRADACHITH

To Chef Bobby PradachithLao cuisine is like a religion. At 23, he’s already made a name for himself in the Washington D.C. culinary scene as chef and co-owner of Thip Khao — the traditional Laotian restaurant he operates alongside his mother. Before he became a full-fledged evangelist, Bobby spent his first year out of culinary school absorbing the modernist food philosophy at José Andrés’ Minibar — training he now adapts to the family business. This week Bobby dropped by Ace Hotel Pittsburgh to celebrate his place among Eater’s Young Guns, taking the opportunity to proselytize about his deep passion for Laotian culture and cuisine.  

When did you know you wanted to cook?

When I was a sophomore in high school, I went through some sort of an identity crisis — I didn’t know who I was as a person. Being born in American as a Laotian, I was heavily influenced by American culture. I began to lose my understanding of my family’s culture. I felt as though I was disappointing my parents because I didn’t continue learning about my family’s heritage. 

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The event was organized by restaurateur Art Smith, Oprah’s former personal chef, who deliberately chose the number of weddings to compare Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (opposed legalizing gay marriage) to Cruella De Vil from ‘101 Dalmatians.’

Guy Fieri officiated the ceremony in honor of his late sister, who was a lesbian…

…and Duff Goldman, a gay rights advocate, made a gold, 7-tier, art deco-inspired cake and a feast of food for the reception. 

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Stefan Ruiz

The Eternal Magic of Beirut

For many of us, it’s synonymous with war and strife. But for the artists, chefs, designers, architects and scholars who live there, Beirut will always be a place where ideas and beauty flourished…and flourish still.

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Introducing Food & Wine Chefs-in-Residence. In honor of our 2014 redesign, we enlisted star chefs Grant Achatz (above), Mario Batali, Eric Ripert, David Chang, Andrew Zimmern and Hugh Acheson to consult on monthly features, recipes and travel tips. They have brilliant ideas, but don’t always make great office mates. For full videos visit Youtube.com/foodandwine.

Signs as Food Network Chefs/Judges

Aries: Alex Guarnaschelli

Taurus: Anne Burell

Gemini: Maneet Chauhan

Cancer: Amanda Freitag

Leo: Bobby Flay

Virgo: Giada De Laurentis

Libra: Barefoot Contessa

Scorpio: Alton Brown

Sagittarius: Robert Irvine

Capricorn: Scott Conant

Aquarius: Guy Fieri

Pisces: Gordon Ramsay

So you walk into the new Korean joint around the corner and discover that (gasp) the head chef is a white guy from Des Moines. What’s your gut reaction? Do you want to walk out? Why?

The question of who gets to cook other people’s food can be squishy — just like the question of who gets to tell other people’s stories. (See: The whole controversy over the casting of the new Nina Simone biopic.)

For some non-white Americans, the idea of eating “ethnic cuisine” (and there’s a whole other debate about that term) not cooked by someone of that ethnicity can feel like a form of cultural theft. Where does inspiration end? When is riffing off someone’s cuisine an homage, and when does it feel like a form of co-opting? And then there’s the question of money: If you’re financially benefiting from selling the cuisine of others, is that always wrong?

When Chefs Become Famous Cooking Other Cultures’ Food

Photo: Sergi Alexander/Getty Images
Caption: Rick Bayless is a master of Mexican cuisine. He’s also a white guy from Oklahoma. Over the years, that has made him the target of criticism. 

Recently, we started a conversation about food and race. Specifically, we wondered out loud, who gets to cook — and become the face of — a culture’s cuisine?

Our question was prompted by a recent Sporkful interview with Rick Bayless, who has faced criticism over his long career. Although he is an Oklahoman with no Mexican ancestry, he has become one of the most prominent ambassadors for Mexican cuisine in America.

To be clear, this isn’t about Bayless. (Though the acclaimed chef did hop into the comments section to weigh in.) The question of who gets credit for a cuisine — and how they are compensated and feted — is one that comes up again and again in the food world. We asked readers to weigh in with their feelings about this squishy topic.

As with many things involving race and class in America, there are no easy answers — and we’re not expecting to find any clear-cut ones. We’re more interested in starting a conversation.

When Is It OK To Profit From Cooking Other Cultures’ Food? You Weighed In

Illustration: kana_hata/Getty Images

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Chef’s Table goes inside the lives and kitchens of six of the world’s most renowned international chefs. Each episode focuses on a single chef, featuring Ben Shewry (Attica Restaurant in Melbourne, Australia), Magnus Nilsson (Fäviken in Järpen, Sweden), Francis Mallmann (El Restaurante Patagonia Sur in Buenos Aires, Argentina), Niki Nakayama (N/Naka Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA, USA), Dan Barber (Blue Hill Restaurant at Stone Barns and in New York City, USA) and Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy) and their unique look at their lives, talents and passion from their piece of culinary heaven.

Watch the trailer here

Watch the show on Netflix here

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When people ask me what Leah is like, my response is, “she’s not Leah, she’s Mrs Chase, and she is formidable.” And that’s not the half of it. There is no judgment in her gaze, nor vitriol from her lips, but there is something about her presence that creates the sudden desire to articulate your words, watch your language, sit up straight or stand up straight, pull down your dress so that your knees are covered, pull up your pants so that they sit on your hips where they should be, take off your baseball cap and while you’re at it spit out the gum you’d been chewing. And that’s before she’s said a word. I was raised by women like her; women who quietly, or loudly, inspired you to be better. Women who bustled about, mothering, cajoling, threatening, crying, laughing, singing, cooking, praying, hoping and teaching. Women who insured that you not only aimed for, but succeeded at being the best version of yourself…

(via Leah Chase: Queen of Creole Cuisine - Life & Thyme)