Chef Viet Pham in town for Beaver Creek’s food festival
Meet the chef
As Twitter bios do, Viet Pham’s sums him up succinctly:
“Co-owner of Forage, finalist on Food Network Star Season 9, Winner of Iron Chef America vs. B. Flay, 3x JBF semifinalist, F&W Magazine’s Best New Chef 2011.”
Pham owns Forage Restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah and recently opened the casual spot Beer Bar in downtown Salt Lake City; he has plans to complete the dining trifecta this spring, when he opens fine dining restaurant Ember & Ash, also located in “the Crossroads of the West.”
Pham, who is in town for the first time, is one of the guest chefs at Beaver Creek’s Food & Wine Weekend taking place in Beaver Creek today through Sunday. The charming Pham was born in Malaysia in 1979 as his parents left Vietnam as “boat people” refugees. He credits his parents with giving him a love for food and cooking. “Just watching them in the kitchen, and seeing how much they enjoyed cooking together and how much everyone enjoyed their food at family gatherings really resonated with me,” he said.
BEAVER CREEK — E is for egg. The word of this week definitely begins with the letter “E” for chef Viet Pham.
The Salt Lake City chef and restaurant owner spent three days earlier this week meticulously decapitating 750 chicken eggs for the dish he’ll (gently) hand to eager attendees of Food & Wine Weekend’s grand tasting in Beaver Creek Saturday night.
The egg shells were sanded down, so the edges are perfect, and then carefully packed in boxes, among a sea of cushy bubble wrap, and flown in the cargo area of the same plane bringing Pham to Colorado Thursday. The eggs are nestled next to a slew of other ingredients Pham needs to pull off three dishes he’s making for the festival, taking place Thursday through Sunday in Beaver Creek.
“I’m bringing out literally three boxes the size of coffins: they’re the same dimensions,” he said. “We’re hoping the (egg shells) don’t break. If they break, well, it’ll be interesting.”
MEAT AND POTATOES … AND EGGS
Pham has been prepping for the festival for more than a week in hopes that he’ll be able to enjoy some of the events while he’s here.
On Friday, Pham will serve two courses at the sold-out snowshoe and gourmet lunch. First up is a potatoes-done-two-ways dish: potatoes smoked with juniper will be pureed, then topped with new potatoes that were cooked in seaweed butter.
“We make a brown butter that we add a type of seaweed to it,” Pham said. “It adds that umami flavor, saltiness and a little crunch.”
Next is beef ribeye, aged 45-days, cooked over almond wood in a hearth Pham plans to build in the back of the Park Hyatt hotel, he said. The beef will be served with onions cooked in citrus juices — “almost like a pickle,” he said — and topped with yogurt sauce emulsified with juices from the beef bones and finished with a “vinaigrette” made with rendered fat trimmed from the meat combined with shallots, lime juice and a splash of apple cider vinegar.
But let’s get back to those eggs, shall we? The dish is homage to one of the best egg dishes in the world, called the l’Arpege egg, made by master chef Alain Passard and served at his three-star Michelin restaurant l’Arpege in Paris.
Pham adds cream, winter black truffle shavings, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to the egg yolks and gently cooks them over a double boiler, to make what is essentially “really soft scrambled eggs,” he said. He pipes the eggs back into the shells, adds a touch of maple syrup and tops it with whipped cream flavored with sherry vinegar, a sprinkling of chives and some fresh truffle shavings.
E is also for excellent, which is how we suspect the dish will be described come Saturday.
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