2019 In Flavors with Chef Andrew Le
It’s 2019 and the year of the pig is officially upon us. And because we just couldn’t resist ourselves, we reached out to chef Andrew Le of Piggy Smalls and the Pig and the Lady fame, to see what the new year has in store for the acclaimed chef-turned-restaurateur.
Being the Year of the Pig, we felt compelled to reach out to you directly to see what you and the team have in store for the upcoming year.
With 2019 being the Year of the Pig, it’s pretty cool to think that this is “our year.” We’ve always been driven to change our menus to keep things interesting for our guests and to motivate our teams to innovate new dishes. I’m sure this is going to help us focus the decisions we make and also influence the menu.
Are there any new flavors or dishes making their way onto the menu this year?
At Pig and the Lady, we’re currently deep into R&D mode, so it’s hard to say anything about it now. Though we do plan to explore collaborative tasting menus inspired from regional Vietnamese foods, historical events, and of course, our own personal food memories, explored and interpreted through Vietnamese flavors. We wanted to revisit our roots and really dig into the elements and the origins of the cuisine we love, and then, see how we can help evolve it.
At Piggy Smalls, the menu has a lot more freedom than its sister restaurant, since they both work with global flavors with an Asian-American perspective. We conduct a lot of research here as well, but that inspiration can come from a wider variety of places and interesting places in the world. We changed the menu in the beginning of December of last year, and we’ll be digging in deeper into R&D soon for this coming spring.
How does the process of creating a new item on the menu work?
First, we make a list of all the things that inspire us. From there, we’ll begin testing and tasting of those dishes. Then, we’ll carefully edit that list and try to compose a menu that really resonates with our approach. From there, we’ll create a new menu tasting with our teams and try and collect as much feedback as we can to fine tune it. Finally, it goes live, and it may or may not evolve during its life in the restaurant. Most times it can be a long and difficult road to developing these dishes, and often time, the item will only live on the menu once. But sometimes you find those golden ideas and perfect flavor combinations that become part of the restaurant’s DNA. When that happens, it’s magic.
Are there any new local vendors or new ingredients that have you especially excited?
We’re proud to continue working with the likes of Kahumana Farms, Ho Farms, Hauula Growers, Mari’s Garden, Kolea Farms, Local I’a, and others. They all do a great job at providing us with what we need and bring new ingredients for us to try. Of course, we are always on the search for new things to taste and cook with, so if you’re reading this and are growing or catching something new, come on by the restaurant to say hi!
Let’s talk dessert for a moment. We’re huge fans of the soft-serve concept and all of the amazing flavors we’ve been able to experience—all housed in a single cone.
Our Pastry Chef, Jessica Fu, is so talented. She’s always tinkering with new recipes and techniques. Her sensitivity to seasons, balance of flavors, and clarity of ingredients is her greatest strength. She’s able to make her desserts both unique and familiar at the same time. Like I mentioned before, we are currently in R&D mode so it’s hard to say exactly what will end up on the menu, but you can rest assured that everything she’s working on just gets better and better.