"We all need to learn the basics and grow from there. A couple tats and a few classes aren’t going to make you a chef or even a decent cook.”
A New York City native, Chef-Instructor King Phojanakong's cooking influences began at home with his Filipino mother and Thai father. Childhood summers spent in the Philippines furthered Chef King’s interest in the culinary world and instilled the importance of community and culture. Upon graduating from The Culinary Institute of America, King worked with Alex Lee and Daniel Boulud at Restaurant Daniel and was part of the opening team at David Bouley’s Danube.
Chef King opened Kuma Inn on New York’s Lower East Side in 2003, where he’s served Filipino and Southeast Asian food for more than 15 years. King created the award-winning Bronx Hot Sauce, which is made from peppers grown in the borough’s community gardens and inspired Small Axe Peppers Hot Sauce, which partners with community gardens in 10 cities. He also made the recipe for The Bronx Salad, an initiative with The Institute for Family Health, and consults for Campbell’s Soup Company, San Miguel Produce, The United Soybean Board and The Culinary Institute of America.
Chef King has appeared on “Cutthroat Kitchen”, “The Rachael Ray Show”, Cooking Channel’s “Food(ography)”, and “Mike Colameco’s Real Food”. He started instructing at ICE in 2017 at a time in his career when he felt compelled to give back. “We teach and learn everyday in the kitchen – I just wanted to do it in a more formal setting where everyone is on the same page sharing the same passion,” he says.
King advises students, “it takes time, patience and love to perfect the craft. A little skill doesn’t hurt either, but you can learn that.”