The (Pork) Belly of the Beast
I do fully realize that the things that get under my skin have zero relevance to like 98% of the world’s population, but isn’t that what blogs are for (I mean besides posting naked pics)? So, I’m getting tired of hearing about chef Zak Pelaccio’s parents' loft in SoHo. Granted, he’s been the subject of the New York Times’s The Chef column for the past three weeks, hence the August barrage, but enough with setting the scene already. Or maybe the three quotes below were meant to be merely informative and endearing and I’m just a fussbudget.
“IN the climate-controlled comfort of his parents' loft in SoHo, where Zak Pelaccio was cooking some of his favorite Malaysian dishes…” –The New York Times, August 30, 2006
“‘I ate a lot of Cubanos back then because you could get them all over Williamsburg, but I wasn't necessarily interested in putting something so ubiquitous on the menu,'’ he said one recent sultry afternoon in his parent's loft in SoHo.” –The New York Times, August 23, 2006
“Arms laden, he crept through the steaming Chinatown streets (‘I learned to move slow in the heat in Southeast Asia,’ he said) to the cool sanctum of his parents' SoHo loft, borrowed for the afternoon.” –The New York Times, August 16, 2006
I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I was in Malaysia and reading online how Mr. Pelaccio was opening meatpacking district Fatty Crab, a Malaysian restaurant named after a seafood place in Kuala Lumpur. I kind of love the idea of glamming up this cuisine that’s unpopular in NYC to say the least, but the meatpacking district? Ugh. I’ve half-heartedly intended to check this place out since last September, and never have because I’m not a masochist. His first restaurant Chicken Bone Café, which opened and closed in Williamsburg, was one of my more trying dining experiences. And earlier this year when I went to 5 Ninth to try his much lauded cubano for an article I was writing and they said they didn’t have the pork that day. How do you not have pork, especially when it’s been well publicized how swine crazy the chef is? Plus, I couldn't ignore this 5 Ninth complaint on Eater last week. (I can't help but be a bit porcine focused, myself. I just ran out and got pork belly and rice from the Chinese steam table joint around the corner from my office.) :
"Pelaccio combines a knack for old-fashioned goodness (he's a wizard with pork belly) with an instinct for eye-catching combinations using ingredients from far-off destinations like Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur." –New York Magazine, January 9, 2006
"Pelaccio is the punky, pork-loving chef who apprenticed at The French Laundry and Daniel.. "–Daily News, November 18, 2005
"In the end, just like pork-loving 5 Ninth chef Zak Pelaccio, I prefer my pork fresh, not processed.
'Even when my sister lived in Hawaii and I visited her, I didn't eat Spam,' says the hog-wild Pelaccio, who'd just had a 50-pound pig hung in his cooler."– Daily News March 16, 2005
"Mr. Pelaccio makes admirable use of pork in several distinctive forms."– The New York Times, April 30, 2003
His choice of venues give me pause. Now he’s doing dim sum carts (which also sounds cool in theory) at some obnoxious roof top bar 230 Fifth (Ok, I’ve never been but are their un-obnoxious roof top bars in Manhattan)? Double ugh. There aren’t many acclaimed chefs that are so fond of S.E Asian ingredients and are bringing them into the mainstream like he is. I admire that because if I were a chef I would imagine having a similar aesthetic. I’ll even admit to being intrigued by the idea of his often written about watermelon pork belly salad–and I absolutely hate all melons.
But that damn loft. I know I can be closed minded, but I just can’t trust anyone who has parents with a SoHo loft. In the unlikely event that any readers here have parents with SoHo lofts, please enlighten me. I want to understand, not loathe the unknown.
Pig tattoo from SF Gate. I know nothing about chef John Stewart other than what I've gathered from this article.