Ginger Park chef Patricia Yeo has only been in Boston for a month, but she's already noticed some differences between our city and New York. In an interview with Grub Street, the former chef of New York's Monkey Bar and Sapa said the kitchen culture here is more laid back. "They're much more relaxed in Boston — in New York, they're slightly more driven, slightly more hungry," she says. Read more fighting words, and Yeo's plans for Ginger Park, below.
Why did you decide to move to Boston?
I love New York and it will always be home to me, but Boston seems to be so much more liveable, in an odd sort of way. I needed that balance of work and having a life and it was hard to maintain that in New York, where i spent all my time working. Don't get me wrong - I spend all my time working here as well, but I foresee a light at the end of the tunnel. I also have some really good friends up here.
Were you looking for a job specifically in Boston or did you move here just to work at Ginger Park?
I was looking for a job outside the city, but I knew I didn't want to move clear across the country to San Francisco or anything. I was applying for jobs in Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, all the sort of peripheral cities around New York, and this one just sort of landed in my lap.
How is Ginger Park different from Banq?
We wanted to do small portions of very very accessible fun, sharable food that you can just keep eating all night long. Your palate gets jaded very quickly with a whole entree. I can't count the times I've seen people swapping entrees, so I thought "Why not do it for them?"
What distinguishes Ginger Park from nearby Asian small plates restaurant Myers + Chang?
Myers + Chang is an old Boston stalwart that I don't even really want to compare myself with. I don't want to sound pretentious.
In terms of the food scene, how are Boston and New York different?
In New York, just because of the sheer volume of people, there's that many more people walking through your door. Boston has more restaurants for fewer people, so you're fighting for your share. That's what I've noticed in the short time I've been here — tomorrow it will have been a month.
What neighborhood do you live in? Have you found a good bar and restaurant there?
I live in the South End, ten minutes from work. It's very quaint, but I've been told that you get lulled into a sense of complacency. I hadn't realized I was taking a dangerous route when I walked home, but my waitstaff set me straight. It turns out I was walking down "Mugger's Alley", as they put it. I don't have any real standbys yet, but if I had to name one, it would probably be Pops. They're so friendly and the portions are enormous!
What, if anything, do you miss about New York?
From a work standpoint, the kitchen staff here is different. They're much more relaxed in Boston — in New York, they're slightly more driven, slightly more hungry. Also, the ordering situation is very different. In NYC, you order everything from different places, but here we order almost everything from one purveyor and I'm not used to it, so I always call back multiple times. I'm still getting a lot of my ingredients from New York, because the Chinatown here is much smaller than New York's. The choice isn't here yet. What I've found with Asian markets here is that they're mostly Chinese. I can't find Indian ingredients or weird Southeast Asian ingredients. And it's colder here! I came out with summer dresses and open-toed shoes and I've been too busy to go back and get my other clothes, so I've been shivering.
What's surprised you the most about Boston?
Everyone's so friendly! Is that weird? I'm not used to my neighbors saying hello in the mornings as opposed to just grunting.