One of New York's top restaurants has just recruited an Australian to run its kitchen. James Parry is now chef de cuisine of Momofuku Ko, the flagship of David Chang's Momofuku restaurant group. Parry is best known in Australia as the co-founder of Sydney two-star Sixpenny, which he left in 2016, and has latterly worked as one of Neil Perry's R&D chefs.
Parry joins Momofuku at a moment of growth both for Momofuku Ko and for the larger group. Majordomo, Momofuku's first West Coast restaurant, opened its doors in Los Angeles late in January, while Ko is set to expand its footprint back in New York. What was storage and office space ("before Dave [Chang] went all tiger-parent on us for being spoiled New Yorkers with too much space", says general manager Su Wong Ruiz) has become a bar, opening this weekend, where diners can eat à la carte, ordering dishes executive chef Sean Gray, Parry and the team are considering for the tasting menu in the restaurant-proper.
Wong Ruiz says she doesn't want to oversell the R&D-kitchen angle of the new space. "It'll be the bar at Ko where you can make a meal of it if you want or just have a drink," she says. "We also reserve the right to occasionally serve things we just really want to eat without relation to tasting menus of any kind."
Given that cooking off the cuff late at night and otherwise going off-script has given rise to many of the best things to come out of Momofuku, the introduction of this experimental element sounds promising nonetheless, and the chance to experience one of Manhattan's few really interesting fine-diners without the necessity of committing to a 15-course tasting menu can only be a good thing.
Parry, for his part, says he's excited to be joining the team. "When the opportunity at Ko appeared I knew it was the right move for me," he says. "Sean is a great guy and we immediately had a rapport when I met with him late last year. They're coming into a really exciting and ambitious time and I'm up for the challenge."
Parry isn't the only former Sydneysider in the group, meanwhile. Richard Hargreave, the original sommelier from Momofuku Seiobo, is currently running the drinks program at Majordomo in LA, while the sommelier who followed him in Sydney, Ambrose Chiang, joined Ko as beverage manager in November.
Momofuku Ko, 8 Extra Place (off 1st St between 2nd Ave and Bowery), New York, momofuku.com