When I met Bangkok-born Chef Alex Boonphaya in January of 2013 I immediately knew I was meeting a culinary force to be reckoned with. The humble “gentle giant” was a bit shy at first, but I was able to get him out of his shell by jumping straight into the reason he contacted me and several other publicists around Philadelphia. Alex asked me to conceive a strategy to enlist top Philly chefs to participate in a Thai New Year block party outside his new Northern Liberties restaurant during Thai New Year in April. Within seconds, my mind mapped out the list of top Philly chefs that I would solicit to participate, but I told Alex right then and there that I didn’t feel hosting a one-day block party was the right strategy to gain him the media attention that he wanted to secure. Instead, I proposed a series of collaborative dinners that happened over several weeks with top chefs, which ensured multiple stories over two months and culminated with a host of media attention leading up to Thai New Year.
My plan elongated the media attention, reduced the cost of permits, removed the aggravation that would have been caused by trying to get the street closed, and fostered some fantastic new relationships between Philadelphia’s top Thai chef and several talented rising-stars. Alex loved it, and hired Peter Breslow Consulting & Public Relations on the spot.
After we celebrated Thai New Year and reflected on our first success, we realized that we had become close friends in a short time. Alex suggested we fly to The Land of Smiles for a few weeks so I could immerse myself in the culture and better understand the traditions of his homeland. How could I turn that strategy down?! Instead of just accepting the invitation, I suggested we bring food and travel writer Brian Freedman with us, and email video updates to the Philadelphia press to showcase elements of our research trip. Alex agreed, and we enjoyed more success, as the experience netted us a wealth of insight into Alex’s native land, along with several stories and an e-book by Brian Freedman, and significant coverage of the journey by the Philadelphia press.
Upon returning from Thailand, we decided to continue the collaborative dinner series, but evolved the format from a celebration of Thai New Year traditions to a “Knife Fight,” whereby 45 diners get to experience a 6-course meal prepared by two chefs, and rate each dish blindly. The result has ignited a series of “Thai Knife Fights” that pit Chef Boonphaya against top chef competitors for dinners featuring delicious indulgences, bragging rights, and some really sweet culinary cutlery, which serves as the prize for the chef who secures the most points from the guests’ scorecards.
Once we launched the Thai Knife Fight series, we decided to approach the James Beard Foundation to secure an opportunity for Chef Boonphaya to headline at the most prestigious culinary organization in the United States. On August 14, 2014, Chef Alex Boonphaya prepared a decadent 5-course Thai dinner for a sold-out audience of foodies at The James Beard House in New York’s West Village.
In September of 2014 Alex and his Sous Chef Silvestre Rincon unveiled Tuk Tuk Real, a Thai Taqueria that weaves the flavors and ingredients of Boonphaya’s native Thailand and Rincon’s Mexican heritage on Philadelphia’s South Street. Of course, we ignited a significant public relations blitz that has netted the fast-casual quick serve restaurant an incredible return on their PR investment as well as an immediate following.
In less than two years, Peter Breslow Consulting & Public Relations helped Chef Alex Boonphaya both increase the size of his company and grow his reputation from being considered a talented Thai chef and restaurateur to being considered one of the top Thai chefs in the northeast U.S. Look for Chef Boonphaya to continue to make big news for creating innovative, mouthwatering Thai cuisine in and around Philadelphia for years to come. Circles has been designated “Best of Philly” for Thai food from Philadelphia magazine in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
View Foobooz’s story about Chef Alex Boonphaya’s engagement at The James Beard House: http://www.phillymag.com/foobooz/2014/08/15/alex-goes-jimmys-house-big-night/
Click here to view the first of two videos Peter Breslow Consulting & Public Relations produced in Thailand showcasing Chef Alex Boonphaya’s journey to his homeland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKrPW6OH4L0
View Philadelphia City Paper’s coverage of Chef Alex Boonphaya’s Thai New Year collaborations: http://citypaper.net/article.php?Circles-Collabs-For-Thai-New-Year-17346