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Celebrating Women's History Month: 6-course dinner with Chef Pha Le


Celebrating Women's History Month: 6-course dinner with Chef Pha Le

In celebration of Women's History Month, Virgin Hotels Chicago's very own Chef Pha Le has prepared a 6-course dinner drawing inspiration from her Vietnamese heritage along with the work and travel experiences that have shaped her journey as a chef.

Course 1: Banh Xeo Bite Curry | Mung Bean | Taro | Sweet & Sour

Course 2: Mielle Fuelle Diakon | Papaya | Peanut | Smoked Tofu

Course 3: “Pho” Vermicelli | Tendon | Tenderloin | Jus

Course 4: Barramundi Nurungji | Ramp | Coconut | Morels

Course 5: Duck Chayote | Broccolini | Feuille De Brick

Course 6: Panna Cotta Pandan | Basil | Tapioca | Lychee

About Chef Pha Le:

Pha Le was born in Vietnam and grew up on a farm in Nebraska, Texas, and now resides in Chicago, IL. After graduating from high school in Houston, Texas, she decided to go straight to culinary school at the Art Institute of Houston.

While attending culinary school, she did her internship at St. Regis Hotel in Houston, Texas and stayed after earning her degree to further her understanding of hospitality.

Her culinary background in Houston includes Haven Restaurant, which was the 1st certified “Green” restaurant that she helped open for Randy Evans, (formerly Brennan’s & Commander’s Palace, Louisiana). She also helped open Hendricks Deli & Grill the Sous Chef before moving to Chicago to further her culinary repertoire.

With Haven being such an environment friendly restaurant; vegetables and herbs were grown and harvested on site. She was able to learn and understand farm to table dining and the true meaning of “cook what you can grow”. This inspired her to learn and mix finesse from fine dining and local ingredients while still maintaining integrity and utilizing each ingredient to its full potential. That kick started her decision to move to Chicago where there’s so much opportunity and go back to her midwestern roots.

While in Chicago she opened Yusho restaurant and worked at Blackbird restaurant as a line cook before leaving to work at the legendary Pump Room conceptualized by Jean-George Vongerichten at The Public Hotel as a line cook then Sous Chef.

Farm to fork really cemented when she left the Pump Room and went to work for Nicole Pederson at Found Restaurant as her Executive Sous Chef. During her 3-year duration, there were multiple company field trips for employees to the farms to learn about where the products came from. She enjoyed making last minute specials based on ingredient availability, changed the menu every two to three months based on seasonality, and worked with local purveyors to see the smile on their faces when a restaurant supported their life’s work.

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