Andy Ricker spent his formative years, as many budding chefs do, as a teenage dishwasher, in his case at a small Vermont restaurant. Unlike many chefs, Ricker also spent years backpacking across the globe, working at a number of restaurants in New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, and Europe, including Le Manoir Aux Quatre Saisons. Those international horizons, combined with a pivotal introduction to Thai cuisine by an old friend who moved to the country’s northern region, inspired Ricker to bring himself and his favorite flavors, back to the states.
Now an established stateside champion of Thai cuisine, Ricker still considers himself a student of his passions. He travels throughout Asia at least a month out of every year, tasting and trying and taking notes for his own nascent culinary empire, which began when Ricker opened innovative Thai temple Pok Pok in Portland, Oregon, in 2005. And while he still might shy from words like “authority” and “expert,” if success is any indication, Ricker is clearly doing something right. Pok Pok was named “Restaurant of the Year” by The Oregonian and ultimately netted Ricker the title of James Beard’s “Best Chef, Northwest” in 2011.
Still exploring in his own right, Ricker opened Ping in 2009, a pub-like space with an Asian fusion menu that made food critics’ “must try” lists. He also cut the ribbon at Whiskey Soda Lounge, a lounge with Thai-inspired cocktails. Most recently, Ricker opened Pok Pok Ny in New York City—first whetting our appetites with Pok Pok Wing—which has received immediate adoration and critical praise.