Monday, January 18, 2010

Ginger Park

Design and food, food and design, that's always the quandary. It is probably the most photographed interior design of any Boston restaurant. Just walking through this South End eatery makes one feel that you have been admitted to a special enclave. We had been there briefly for it's birth as Banq, which seemed more a design showcase, but now it seems that the place has become more alive with food.

Walk with us as TBF has a special invite to meet, visit and chat with Chef Patricia Yeo of Ginger park.

Chef Yeo (pronounced YO) chose to sit in the private dining area, behind the jade-colored scrim, where you have a full view of the restaurant. In our unconventional interview style we'll summarize:

Chef Yeo had recently dined at Market at the W in Boston and liked it. "I've just begun to take nights off," she says, noting the busy schedule of getting a new menu up and running. In food, she looks for and values imagination. Pursuing her docorate degree in biochemistry, Yeo, on a whim, enrolled in a cooking class for fun. Chef Yeo then began her work with Bobby Flay when she answered an ad to work for the then unknown Chef in New York City. She still draws inspiration from Flay's style in her spicy dishes. Before long she was operating her own restaurant, AZ. She is unapologetic for the fact that there is no dessert menu but proud of the melted Valrhona chocolate after dinner amuse bouche served. She sources from Laotian farmers in the Berkshires. (Who knew?) We lament about the cost of visiting the U.K., where she went to boarding school in her youth. They have a specialist that comes in every day to dust and clean the wooden slats that adorn the ceiling. "It's a pain to clean," she says.

Then we head into the kitchen. She is the only female back of house, greeted more like a friend, less like a Drill Sargent. "I get along well with the guys," she says. The restaurant business is still a male-dominated world. I point out that Boston is an exception. We have lots of great female chefs. "Yes," she says. "San Francisco is first but Boston is next. I think maybe it's a cultural thing." I love being in restaurant kitchens. She makes kimchi for us on camera but as soon as the video stops she offers up a piece for tasting.

We've run the demo video before but here is the raw video of Patricia in the kitchen. One of the things we are learning is that the post-demonstration video is often far more relaxed and interesting than the actual presentation video.

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