Chef Andy Ricker Brings Pok Pok to Las Vegas with Block 16

 

Finagling an in-person interview with chef Andy Ricker is a complicated Q&A to get on the books. Ricker, based primarily out of Portland, has been a man about town over the last few years, bouncing between coasts to keep an eye on his restaurants. And that’s when he’s not in Thailand.

“I split my time between Portland, Chiang Mai, and New York for the most part these days,” the chef says. “My travel schedule is pretty intense over the year. Put it this way: I maintain Diamond status in my frequent flyer program.”

As Pok Pok NY bids adieu, Ricker adds a new stop to his travels, with an outpost of his popular wing joint, Pok Pok Wing, opening today in Las Vegas’s Cosmopolitan Hotel. Joining another Portland chef in the build, Lardo’s Rick Gencarelli, the new Block 16 Urban Food Hall also includes Nashville favorite Hattie B’s hot chicken, New York bar Ghost Donkey, sweets from New Orleans’s District Donuts, and a sake and sushi spot from Las Vegas restaurateur Takashi Segawa.

Along his journeys, Ricker had a chance to give his take on the opening in Sin City.

Q: How intimately are you involved with the day-to-day activities of 
your restaurants?

A: Very. I no longer work a station in the kitchen, but I am involved with everything from restaurant maintenance to recipe testing to finances.

Q: What about this project in the Cosmopolitan Hotel interested you?

A: The ability to see how the Pok Pok Wing concept fares in a high traffic concept like The Cosmopolitan with the broadest demographic I can imagine; everybody comes to Las Vegas and if enough folks take to what we have to offer, it’s a good indication the concept is solid. Also, this will be the first time we have done a licensing deal where we are not managing the concept and I am looking forward to learning from that process.

Q: Have you adapted the menu much for the Las Vegas demographic?

A: No, we have not, except to add a couple of dishes (Phat Thai and Khao Soi) that we do not currently serve at Pok Pok Wing in Portland.

Photo: Pok Pok Wing

Photo: Pok Pok Wing

Photo: Evan Sung for The New York Times, via Pok Pok Wing

 

~Jennifer Matthewson