Words & Deeds

Boise chef, restaurant to serve dinner at prestigious James Beard House

Mai Thai executive chef Justin Scheihing, left, and general manager Jason Dale.
Mai Thai executive chef Justin Scheihing, left, and general manager Jason Dale. Mai Thai

The crew from Downtown Boise restaurant Mai Thai woke up with an appetite for adventure today. Armed with a menu of Gem State ingredients and pride, they boarded a 5 a.m. flight for New York.

On Thursday, Mai Thai will bring a taste of Idaho to the prestigious James Beard House. The fine-dining destination offers multi-course meals from visiting chefs.

A kitchen cam will go live at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, so you can watch executive chef Justin Scheihing and the Mai Thai crew in action. If you miss the feed, which usually runs between three and three-and-a-half hours, there also is an archive available.

Mai Thai, 750 W. Idaho St., was contacted about two months ago and invited to cook, general manager Jason Dale says.

The decision to go was easy to make. Idaho restaurants aren’t invited to the Beard House often. Now-defunct Boise restaurant Mortimer’s served a dinner there in 2005. It’s an honor and a challenge.

Scheihing and owner Billy Pothikamjorn, who was born in Thailand, will use the opportunity to showcase Thai cuisine — Idaho-style.

“We’re bringing Idaho wine, beer. We’re using all-Idaho poultry, proteins,” Dale says. “As many items as we could bring from Idaho to this is what we’re doing.”

The dinner is themed “Songkran: Thai New Year” and will feature “creative, fusion-inspired cuisine in honor of this beloved holiday,” according to the meal description.

Idaho wines from Koenig, Coiled and Telaya — and beer from Boise’s Edge Brewing Co. — will accompany food such as gaeng hang lay curry with Idaho beef cheek confit, pineapple, peanuts and crispy pork skin.

Along with Scheihing, Pothikamjorn and Dale, Mai Thai sous chef Douglas Stinson and manager-sommelier Larry Babich are making the trek to the Beard House.

It’s been a lot of work, Dale says. “Just trying to get everything out there is a huge difficulty,” he explains. “There’s just a lot of little things that we were unfamiliar with that we ended up learning real quick.”

But the experience will be so worth it. Diners are allowed into the Beard House kitchen, where they can watch chefs work. Past chefs who have prepared meals there include Emeril Lagasse and Jacques Pépin.

When the Mai Thai gang gets back to Boise on Friday evening, it will be exhausted — yet energized and inspired.

“My owner (Pothikamjorn), he would like to eventually be the first Michelin star restaurant in Boise,” Dale says. “That’s his whole goal in life.”

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