Khong's Chef Bee Headed to Oishi Thai UPDATED
Chef Bee (left) and Khong's house-made Chiang Rai sausage.
Ladies and gentlemen, Bee has left the Beach.
Piyarat Potha Arreeratn, the Thai wunderkind more commonly known as Chef Bee, said Friday that last week he parted ways with 50 Eggs Restaurant Group's Khong River House. He didn't offer a reason for the split, and
50 Eggs boss John Kunkel didn't immediately respond to emails. Kunkel has issued a statement regarding Arreeratn's departure; read it in full at the end of this post.
What's next for Khong is unclear. The restaurant was named a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in 2013 by the James Beard Foundation. However, Khong also seemed to be built around Chef Bee. The blitz of information that emerged from the restaurant before it opened and in the early days in a way indicated it was built around Bee. Kunkel spent three years in Thailand, where he developed an intense love of the cuisine that emerged from the small villages and towns in its rural north.
Bee, who was born in Chiang Rai in the northern part of the country, seemed the perfect fit for Khong. He brought a repertoire that included everything but the overly sweet coconut curries Americans commonly associate with Thai cuisine.
Meanwhile, he said he's excited to return to Oishi Thai full time. Bee opened the restaurant in 2005 but has spent only a day or two a week there since Khong opened in late 2012.
Now back in North Miami, Bee has his mother with him in the kitchen. She arrived from Thailand earlier this week, and the two plan to spend four years cooking the countless recipes she taught her son as a child as nightly specials.
"She started cooking as soon as she landed in Miami," Bee said.
Tonight, he said, they're offering a tour of Thai street food complete with dungeness crab and durian.
Full statement from John Kunkel of 50 Eggs:
Khong River House has always had a talented team of chefs trained in traditional Thai cooking methods tirelessly working behind the scenes. While Chef Bee handled interviews about the culinary program on behalf of Khong, our recipes are proprietary and belong to the restaurant and our family of chefs at Khong. Chef Bee was no longer acting as part of the family and so we have parted ways with him. The foundation of the culinary concept at Khong, and at all of our 50 Eggs restaurants, has always been centered around a family of chefs. None of our restaurants are driven by a single individual and we have never looked to a single individual for our success or failure. Instead, we support and empower the 100's of talented employees that makeup 50 Eggs Inc. We are a loyal, hardworking team. Bottom line is, the focus for us is to always ensure our guests have the best possible experience. That's never going to change.
-- John Kunkel, CEO & Founder of 50 Eggs Inc.
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