LUCKYINSIDER: Ann Redding of Uncle Boons
Want to experience a fiery, beer-soaked dinner on a cool September evening in expat Bangkok? Head to Uncle Boons in the heart of SoHo, New York City. Born to a Thai mother and American father, chef and co-owner Ann Redding had the special privilege of growing up between both countries and being introduced to their respective culinary traditions. The dishes served at Uncle Boons thoroughly reflects Ann's multicultural background while maintaining traditional Thai flavors. In this episode of LUCKYINSIDER, we speak with our #WCW:
LUCKYRICE: You were born in Thailand but raised in the U.S. - how has this dichotomy of cultures affected your approach to the menu at Uncle Boons
Ann Redding: I was born in Ubon and lived there for several years before settling in Maryland when I was 10. I have very strong memories from my upbringing in Thailand. When I was little, my grandmother made a living selling vegetables from her farm at an open market and I would often go with her and spend the day "helping", but mostly taking in everything around me: the woman who had the Khao Chae (a Thai iced rice specialty) stand next to us, the canal behind us brimming with fish, the smoke rising from the crematorium at the Temple in front of us. Spending time with my grandmother, aunts and uncle cooking family meals has instilled a sense of tradition and respect for the cuisine, as well as curiosity, adventure and creativity in cooking. They were always willing to try something new, cook a dish a new way, test out a new ingredient. So while our menu at Uncle Boons leans towards the traditional, we also enjoy having it reflect our personal preferences as well as where we are and what ingredients are available to us here.
LUCKYRICE: What was more important to you when creating the menu: authenticity or creativity?
Ann: The most important thing to us was to make food that was tasty...food that we craved. Not necessarily the kind of food that you would think about and ponder but just really enjoy. Authenticity and staying true to the roots of each dish was important as well but we do take liberties in technique and ingredients when we feel it would enhance the dish.
LUCKYRICE: How do you feel Thai food is represented in New York?
Ann: The last several years have been pretty great! It's an exciting time for Thai food in NYC finally!
LUCKYRICE: Tell us about the moment you were told Uncle Boons received a Michelin star.
Ann: Utter shock. The idea of it wasn't on our radar so it really took us by surprise. A complete honor.
LUCKYRICE: Anything new on the horizon, in NYC or elsewhere?
Ann: We recently opened a lunch and dinner counter, Mr. Donahue’s, just down the street. It's the complete opposite in every way of Uncle Boons. It's pretty special to us. We're also working on expanding the Uncle Boons brand.
LUCKYRICE: Favorite late-night snack?
Ann: What I call the Thai Snack Pack. Jasmine Rice, Boiled Egg, Dried Shrimp and some Nam Prik.