in conversation with Roy Choi
Stories & Recipes from a Refugee Chef’s Isan Thai & Lao Roots
Ann and Jerry Moss Theatre
New Roads School
Herb Alpert Educational Village
3131 Olympic Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
$50 General Admission Seat + a copy of Hawker Fare
$60 Reserved Section Seat + a copy of Hawker Fare
$20 General Admission Seat
$30 Reseved Section Seat
James Syhabout was born in Oakland. He graduated from the California Culinary Academy in 1999 and headed to Manresa and the Fat Duck before working as commis at El Bulli, chef de partie at Alkimia, and chef de partie at Daniel Patterson’s Coi. In 2009 in Oakland he opened Commis, which holds two Michelin stars, and its casual sister restaurant Hawker Fare in Oakland and San Francisco in 2011 and 2015 respectively. He’s also co-owner of Old Kan Beer and Co. in Oakland.
Roy Choi was born in Seoul, Korea and raised in Los Angeles, California, Roy Choi is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and later worked at the internationally acclaimed Le Bernardin. In 2010, Food and Wine named him Best New Chef. His cookbook/memoir L.A. Son was a NY Times Bestseller in 2013. He was included in the 2016 TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World list. And in 2017, LocoL received the first ever LA Times Restaurant of the Year award. Roy resides in Los Angeles where he is the co-owner, co-founder, and chef of Kogi BBQ, Chego!, A-Frame, Commissary, POT and LocoL.
“With Hawker Fare, Syhabout has done more than any other person in the world to get the word out about this unfairly, unnecessarily secret country and cuisine, and he’s done so with the most perfect invitation ever invented by mankind: spicy, fishy, MSG-y bowls of goodness. And BBQ. This book will make you a better person. That’s before you even try any of the recipes.”-Anthony Bourdain in the Preface of Hawker Fare
“James is a suspension bridge between form and flow, meticulous and laid-back, Thailand and Laos, chef and friend, awkwardness and confidence, technique and soul. He’s not one thing or another, and he’s probably going to be someone completely different than you though he was after you read this book. He’s a man of surprises.” –Roy Choi in the Foreword of Hawker Fare
James Syhabout’s hugely popular Hawker Fare restaurant in San Francisco is the product of his unique family history and diverse career experience. Born into two distinct but related Asian cultures—from his mother’s ancestral village in Isan, Thailand’s northeast region, and his father’s home in Pakse, Laos—he and his family landed in Oakland in 1981 in a community of other refugees from the Vietnam War. Syhabout at first turned away from the food of his heritage to work in Europe and become a classically trained chef.
After the success of Commis, his fine dining restaurant and the only Michelin-starred eatery in Oakland, Syhabout realized something was missing—and that something was Hawker Fare, and cooking the food of his childhood. The Hawker Fare cookbook immortalizes these widely beloved dishes, which are inspired by the open-air “hawker” markets of Thailand and Laos as well as the fine-dining sensibilities of James’s career beginnings. Each chapter opens with stories from Syhabout’s roving career, starting with his mother’s work as a line cook in Oakland, and moving into the turning point of his culinary life, including his travels as an adult in his parents’ homelands.
From building a pantry with sauces and oils, to making staples like sticky rice and padaek, to Syhabout’s recipe for instant ramen noodles with poached egg, Hawker Fare explores the many dimensions of this singular chef’s cooking and ethos on ingredients, family, and eating well. This cookbook offers a new definition of what it means to be making food in America, in the full and vibrant colors of Thailand, Laos, and California.