Kris Yenbamroong, it is safe to say, had a fairly eventful weekend. On Saturday, he married Sarah St. Lifer at Night + Market, the wonderful Thai restaurant they run together. On Sunday, an announcement of the marriage made the Vows page of the New York Times. And early this morning, he was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine, in an announcement specifically mentioning his grilled pork collar with jaew.
The award is a singular honor for the mischievous second-generation chef, who is probably as famous for his wiener blossoms, mashed waterbug sauce and warm blood soup with MSG sauce as he is for his versions of elaborate Northern Thai dishes like larb and nam prik.
The recognition, awarded to 10 people each spring, is unusually prestigious, marking the accomplishment of young chefs at precisely the moment when their culinary voices are beginning to assert themselves on a national scale. Other winners this year include Aaron Silverman of the fabulously popular Rose’s Luxury in Washington and the influential team of Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske from Contra and Wildair in New York City
Last year’s local winners included Bestia’s Ori Menashe and Taco Maria’s Carlos Salgado. Past winners from Los Angeles have included Nancy Silverton, Suzanne Tracht, Suzanne Goin, Roy Choi, Ari Taymor, Michael Voltaggio, Josiah Citrin, Ricardo Zarate, Celestino Drago, Mark Peel, Nobu Matsuhisa, and the team of Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook.
The crowds in Yenbamroong’s West Hollywood Night + Market and the long lines that form outside his Silver Lake Night + Market Song are a testament to his influence: He’s the chef who made Thai food weird again.
"It's where you have food, beers and hang out," he said in the Food & Wine announcement. "Like TGI Fridays, but with water bug relish."
In a Facebook posting Monday, Yenbamroong confessed that he and St. Lifer would be postponing their honeymoon. They have a different kind of ceremony to attend in New York.