On Friday, April 11th, the James Beard House welcomed a team of Thai chefs to create a collaborative menu fit for Songkran, the Thai New Year, which is celebrated from April 13th to 15th.
The Beard Foundation hosted Jet Tila, a Los-Angeles based restaurateur who has appeared on Iron Chef America and Cutthroat Kitchen, Hong Thaimee of Ngam, whose work has included cooking for the Thai royal family, and Pichet Ong of Coppelia, who served for several years as the celebrated pastry chef for Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
The festive dinner was hosted in collaboration with LuckyRice, which hosts Asian food festivals in major cities throughout the year. The upcoming LuckyRice Feast in New York on May 2nd will commemorate the fifth year of the festival.
The chefs each chose a small team to accompany them, and prepared several courses inspired by Thai classics from their childhoods.
Dishes included Tom Kha Goong (coconut soup with mushrooms and chili paste), Khao Soi (braised beef curry with turmeric noodles), and coconut custard pie with kaffir lime cream among others.
Although Songkran combines both Buddhist and Thai traditions and begins with family members blessing one another with water, the holiday is not associated with any particular symbolic dishes.
In Thailand around the world, Songkran is often celebrated with water gun battles in the streets. “Because Thai New Year coincides with the hottest time of the year in Thailand, it turned into a festival that centers around a giant water fight,” said Jet Tila.
— Karen Lo (@appleplexy) April 11, 2014
Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.