As executive chef of Embeya, Thai Dang is carrying out a simple philosophy with compelling results. He believes that the basis of any good dish is understanding the product followed by treating and caring for each ingredient individually. Thai has never underestimated the importance of basics such as properly blanching a vegetable or turning a carrot. His commitment to precision and attention to detail have been hallmarks of his career.
In preparation for Embeya, Thai and director Attila Gyulai traveled across Asia to explore its diverse cuisines. Their trip reinforced Thai’s desire to celebrate the best ingredients from around the world by remaining true to their flavors. He also draws inspiration from his Vietnamese upbringing and classic French training to create the inventive contemporary Asian cuisine at Embeya.
Thai began honing his culinary skills as chef de partie for award-winning chef Eric Ziebold of CityZen, a Triple A Four Diamond restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington D.C. He then received recognition as a senior sous chef for celebrated chef Susur Lee of Zentan at The Donovan House Hotel in D.C. Thai’s knowledge of Asian-inspired cuisine was essential to the development of this seasonal menu. It was here that Thai first began combining his native Vietnamese cuisine with his traditional French training to create a modern take on Asian cuisine.
In 2009, renowned chef Laurent Gras invited Thai to join the L2O team in Chicago.
Thai worked closely with chef Gras to create the menu’s seasonal, labor-intensive dishes and in 2010, helped the restaurant earn three Michelin stars. Cooking at this caliber demanded discipline and attention to detail with some of the finest ingredients the world has to offer.
Thai then joined the kitchen at two-star Michelin restaurant RIA and Balsan at the Elysian Hotel Chicago as chef de cuisine. His focus on clean, fresh flavors coupled with his contemporary approach to technique and presentation elevated the menus at both restaurants. In 2012, Thai left to pursue his own restaurant venture and further develop his unique cooking style.