When Andy Ricker opened Pok Pok in 2005, it was little more than a Thai takeout shack outside of his house in a residential neighborhood in Portland. But in the years since, it has transformed into a sit-down restaurant that is one of America’s best Thai restaurants. The onetime house painter first visited Thailand in 1987 and returned over and over to study its cuisine; to replicate what he learned, he works with Oregon farmers to grow herbs like cilantro the way they are cultivated in Thailand (harvested younger, before the stems get massive and the leaves toughen).
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.