DINER: Maenam Chef/Owner Angus An To Cook & Consult At “Kittichai” In Manhattan

June 21, 2012.

by Andrew Morrison | Maenam chef/owner Angus An has taken a job in New York City. Before you freak out and decry an eastern conspiracy to drain us of our top culinary talents, let me first just say that it’s not a full-time gig. An is now the executive chef/consultant at the famed Thai restaurant Kittichai in the swanky 60 Thompson Hotel. He has agreed to make 8 to 10 trips this year, with each sojourn being a week to 10 days in duration. An says the Soho restaurant has a very capable chef de cuisine, and that he was brought on board to develop a new menu and help with its roll-out and maintenance. He’s doing French technique with modern Thai flavours for a NYC customer base (think Gastropod meets Maenam, only a little more sophisticated). The room has been known to pull in 300 covers a night on weekends, so it’s volume, volume, volume. A challenge, to be sure.

So how did this come about? Maenam has always gotten a lot of attention from visiting international reporters and has seen consistent action in New York especially, from The New York Times and New York Magazine (among others). It’s hard to think of the mild-mannered An as a star, but I suppose that’s what he is. Anyway, a headhunter contacted him a year ago about moving to Kittichai full-time, but with a successful restaurant in Kits and a young family to look after, it wasn’t something that he could do. Thank goodness for that. The headhunter was persistent, however, and they eventually arrived at the above accord, which keeps him in Vancouver enough to ensure that life at Maenam (and in his home) continues relatively as is.

Will Maenam suffer? It’s not very likely. Its Thai cred/game is in the capable hands of chef de cuisine Mike Tuangkitkun, who has been at the West 4th award-winner for a few years now (Sean McGuire is his sous chef). What’s more, An’s wife Kate is staying put, the service team is all good, and Kurtis Kolt is consulting on the wine list. It still kind of sucks, though. A few months ago I wrote a story about An and Maenam for the paper saying that we needed him to do a cookbook, a street food cart, and a French restaurant (not necessarily in that order), so it looks like none of those desires are going to be met, at least not for a while. Oh well. Our congratulations to Angus. May he break a leg, and teach them Yankees a thing or three.

Take a look inside Kittichai after the leap…

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