Street Cred

Chef Bee and his mom work on a new project

Chef Bee has called in the big gun for his next project. At 60, she's the master–and she's also his mom.

Bee returned to Oishi Thai, his North Miami restaurant, after departing Khong River House in July, but he's already planning a new restaurant that will serve Thai, Korean, Laotian and Burmese street food, to be called AiYaRa. His mother (and first cooking teacher), Bupha Arreeratn, recently arrived from Chiang Rai to help Chef Bee with the project.

Piyarat Potha Arreeratn, (a.k.a. Chef Bee) and his mom in the kitchen at Oishi Thai

Growing up, Bee assisted his mother in the kitchen every day. One maxim she drilled into him that's served Bee well: Always make your own fresh chile paste.

We met the mother-and-son duo in the Oishi Thai kitchen, where the biting aroma of lemongrass and Thai bird chiles surged after a few spoonfuls of Arreeratn's vibrant paste met a simmering pot of chicken broth. It soon became a smoldering, turmeric-stained chicken curry, garnished with shallots and makrut (kaffir) lime leaves–one of her experiments for the staff's family meal.

Chef Bee grows the Thai bird chiles and herbs for his chile paste

Arreeratn's family meal dishes, like tamarind curry with mustard greens or fried soft-shell crab bathed in coconut milk, sometimes appear on the menu as dinner specials.

Until AiYaRa opens, we'll be hitting Oishi Thai for our fix.