Darren Saypharaj grew up in Temple City, CA. Upon graduation from UC Irvine, he decided to move to New York to pursue his dream of cooking in fine dining restaurants. He attended the French Culinary Institute (now known as the International Culinary Center) following in the footsteps of Wylie Dufresne and David Chang. He spent four years in New York, making his mark in the kitchens of The Modern, The Nomad, and Dovetail. He eventually moved back home to Los Angeles and decided to start his own business, which coincided with the launch of Smorgasburg. Darren now hosts his own pop-up series at Smorgasburg every Sunday, serving his modern and original takes on Asian street noodle dishes.Book seats to We Have Noodles
1. What is food to you?
Food is a ongoing learning experience. You eat to live and you live to eat. You discover things about culture and time and place through food. It is a way to share experiences and memories with one another.
2. How and when did cooking come into your life?
I didn’t start professionally cooking until about 6 years ago but cooking I have always cooked in my life. I remember learning to fry eggs at my grandmas house when I was little which turned into cooking thanksgiving dinner for the family at a young age.
3. Who is your food role model?
A bunch of people. You have the OG TV food personalities: Batali, Martin Yan, Two Fat Ladies, etc. Then you have the modern heroes: Chang, Stupak, Wylie, etc.
4. What do you love about hosting with Feastly?
I like that you can experiment and see your guests right in front of you.
5. What are you cooking goals/dreams right now? And in the long run?
I am looking to open a restaurant soon modeled after the street stalls you find throughout southeast Asia.
6. Favorite meal/feast you’re ever had?(Yes, in your whole life, if you could choose one!)
Favorite fancy meal: Del Posto (When Brooks Headley was the pastry chef).
Favorite normal meal: pho in the San Gabriel Valley (cliché but true)
7. What’s your most memorable moment hosting strangers at a dinner party?
Nothing crazy has ever happened, but it is always a privilege to cook for people.
8. What’s the one thing you always keep in your fridge?
Beer. Chicken Stock.
9. What is the go-to dish you make for yourself when home alone?
I like to try all the different types of instant noodles you find at the Asian supermarket. The possibilities and combinations are endless.
10. Weapon of Choice (in the kitchen):
Short petty knife and plating spoon
11. You’re stranded on a desert island. You can only have one ingredient, but unlimited amounts of it. What is it?
Beer. You could make a raft out of empty bottles too.
12. A fun food fact:
You eat an average of eight spiders in bed a month…wait or was that pizza?
13. What’s the cheesiest food pun:
To brie or not to brie? That is the question.
14. What’s a food trend that you’ve heard of lately?
There’s this epidemic in LA right now of junk food mashups. Think hot cheetos and pizza or tacos and brownies. It has to stop.