Breaking Bao NYC: Priscilla Yeh – State Grill and Bar

Breaking Bao NYC: Priscilla Yeh – State Grill and Bar
Photos courtesy of Patina Restaurant Group

 

Priscilla Yeh is the Executive Chef of STATE Grill and Bar at the Empire State Building. Chef Yeh, a native New Yorker, has been with the restaurant since it opened in September 2014, as part of a $550 million renovation and modernization of the iconic building. Her self-described style of “super-approachable food, done really well,” has resonated with the emerging neighborhood along with her knack for “updating and modernizing New York classic dishes.” In true New York fashion, she finds inspiration in street food and frequent trips to the city’s boroughs to taste emerging trends. “I want the dishes to be familiar, but surprising to taste, and ideally a little bit different and perhaps better than what you were expecting.”

Chef Yeh previously held the position of Executive Chef at DuMont and DuMont Burger in Brooklyn. She was Sous Chef at La Fonda del Sol, and before that, Sous Chef at Dressler, and staged at Bar Boulud. She holds not only a culinary degree from the French Culinary Institute, but a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Please share an off-menu family recipe (or description) or a personal intergenerational food story

My family, though ethnically Chinese, arrived in the states by way of Burma (now Myanmar).  Our family food traditions tend to be a blend of both cuisines. I have large extended families on both my mother’s side and father’s side and there are always large family gatherings. Aunt Lily comes from Shan Province in Burma, where they make a salad of “tofu” made from chickpea flour, seasoned with lime juice, tamarind, onions, cilantro and fish sauce. It has always been my favorite family potluck item. She adds poached chicken and chinese fish cakes to her salad. My version would be a riff on that, using fresh squid.

This family photo from a recent family Christmas party. Of course my mother in red, is in the center, taking charge, surrounded by my aunts.  The recipe I am making for the event is inspired by my aunt Lily’s recipe, to her right. For an intergenerational story, see this article I wrote about learning to make Burmese Mohingha with my mum.  It’s the only one of her recipes I know.

What does participation at LUCKYRICE signify to you?

Being part of LUCKYRICE Feast represents and opportunity to use food as a bridge to connect diverse communities and cultures, and open people up to sharing their personal food experiences.

What do you think of the Asian food moment right now?

The Asian-American community and its food is so diverse and vast, encompassing so many different cultures.  Still, much of can only be found in the kitchens of first generation moms and Grandmas.  Maybe someday some form of Mohingha or Let Thoke will be as easy to find and commonplace and familiar as a pork bun or taco.

 

Taste Chef Priscilla’s exclusive Aunt Lily’s Shan Tofu & Squid Salad at our BREAKING BAO: INTERGENERATIONAL CULINARY EXPERIENCE – NEW YORK CITY on November 16th at The Bowery Hotel.