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Andy Ricker

Portland chef Andy Ricker is on a mission: “I want Americans to think of Thai food as one of the world’s great cuisines,” he says, “deserving a greater level of respect than it gets now.” Ricker is well on his way to making that happen, with restaurants serving food not necessarily in the way Americans have become accustomed to it but in the way it’s cooked and served in Thailand. “We don’t do fusion,” says Ricker.

In Portland, he launched Pok Pok (named Restaurant of the Year by The Oregonian), Pok Pok Noi, Ping (now closed), the Whiskey Soda Lounge (serves Thai drinking food), and, most recently, Sen Yai (spotlighting Kuaytiaw the noodles of Thailand). Then, going bicoastal, he opened Pok Pok Ny, Pok Pok Wing (now closed), and Pok Pok Phat Thai (a pad Thai joint), and Whiskey Soda Lounge Ny in New York City.

Voted the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef/Northwest in 2011, Ricker, a native Vermonter, discovered the tastes of Thailand by backpacking through the country starting in the late eighties, and spending time with a friend who lived there and who introduced him to the dishes of northern Chiang Mai and Isaan.  While Ricker had also explored Australia and New Zealand (working his way around restaurants), it was the Thai flavors that grabbed him. In 2005, he brought Pok Pok to Portland, and immediately gained a solid fan base that continues to grow.

Ricker has also taken to writing about the food he loves. In 2013 he published his first cookbook, Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand with Thai Drinking Food due in fall 2016, and Sen Yai Noodles due in fall 2017. He also won a 2014 James Beard award for “The Star of Siam,” a piece he wrote for Saveur magazine.  

Traveling every year to Thailand helps Ricker stay close to the source and explore new foods and ideas. And what he brings back, explains Providence Cicero of the James Beard Foundation, Ricker brings “with all its sweet and sour, fire and funk intact.”

  • Recipe

    Thai Pork Broth

    Though Thai Hot-and-Sour Shrimp Soup tastes terrific when made with just water, the more flavorful and traditional way to make it is with pork broth. This recipe makes more broth…

  • Recipe

    Thai Hot-and-Sour Shrimp Soup (Tom Yam Kung)

    This hearty, flavorful soup is traditionally served alongside main dishes, with plenty of jasmine rice, but it can also be served as a first course.

  • Moveable Feast

    Rooftop Terrace, New York, NY (113)

    The sun sets over a dramatic rooftop meal in Midtown Manhattan, with host Pete Evans and chefs Matt Lightner, Anita Lo, and Andy Ricker.

  • Moveable Feast

    Pet Pha Lo (Stewed Duck) with Chile Dipping Sauce

    Thai soy sauces have a flavor that’s distinct from Chinese or Japanese sauces, and are an important element in this slow-cooked duck dish. Chef Ricker uses both thin or “white”…

  • Moveable Feast

    Phat Si Ew (Stir-Fried Rice Noodles with Pork, Chinese Broccoli & Soy Sauce)

    A quick cook in a screaming-hot wok—what I now recognize to be the Chinese stir-fry technique—is the key to achieving the smoky, charred flavor common to the best versions of…

  • Moveable Feast

    Sii Khrong Muu Yaang (Thai-Style Pork Ribs)

    When most Americans hear “pork ribs,” they imagine either the sauce-slathered, falling-off-the-bone version that’s the centerpiece of so many backyard barbecues or those you’d demolish at some great dive in…

  • Moveable Feast

    Som Tam Phonlamai (Thai Fruit Salad)

    Just one of many examples of som tam that has nothing to do with green papaya (I do like to add some for this rendition, but you could certainly leave…