Are you looking for a cultural experience for your next dinner occasion? Visit Chef Benjamin Steigers at PABU to taste his modernized Japanese cuisine, and experience the Japanese philosophy of ‘Omotenashi,’ which is the Japanese spirit of hospitality, or visit him at Taste of Downtown Crossing for his sushi roll demonstration.
Your career has taken you from Utah to Japan, Denmark, San Francisco and finally Boston. How would you say your travels have inspired you and help to get you where you are today?
I have been very fortunate to have been to the places that I have. Throughout my travels, I have been able to see just how much food has an impact on the culture of a society, and also how the practices and norms of societies will also shape the food society eats. I think that this inextricable tie to culture is very important, and I try to cook with those connections in mind.
We understand you don’t just work here in the heart of Boston, but you’ve chosen to live here too. What do you love about Boston and this area in particular?
DTX is a neighborhood that has not always had the stellar reputation of other destination neighborhoods such as Back Bay or the North End. So, moving in and setting up shop here, I feel like we were able to start with a blank slate and help mold the identity of the neighborhood. The other restaurants in the area also share this same sentiment, and I love the sense of camaraderie here in the neighborhood.
What do you enjoy most about PABU?
The team here at Pabu is second to none. I’ve never worked with such a dedicated, and hard-working group of people. I feel blessed to come to work and be inspired by the team every day.
How would you describe PABU for those who haven’t been?
PABU is meant to be an experience, not just a meal. We believe in the Japanese philosophy of ‘Omotenashi,’ the Japanese spirit of hospitality that means to ‘entertain our guests wholeheartedly’. We try our hardest to create the best experience for whatever occasion you are joining us for. Whether it’s a romantic dinner for two or a raucous group dinner with old friends, there’s something here for everyone. Oh, and we also cook some pretty delicious food too.
What is your earliest food-related memory?
I remember learning the lesson of kitchen safety very early on. As a kid, I would sit in the kitchen while my mom cooked food all day. She used to try and shoo me out of the kitchen, telling me how dangerous it was, but I would never listen. One day, she had a large batch of rice cooking in the rice cooker on the ground. I, for whatever reason, thought this would be a great place to sit down and relax. Little did I know just how hot the steam vent on top could get. I still have the scar on my backside to this day.
How has your taste evolved through the years?
Throughout the years, I have come to the slow realization that food will never be as good as when a mother or grandmother makes it. Despite technological advances and using modern techniques and all of the training in the world, nothing comes close to that feeling of nostalgia and comfort of a home cooked meal. So, when I go out to eat, I look for food in which you can taste the soul of the chef.
What are your favorite dishes / items to prepare (at work or at home) and why?
Keeping with the nostalgia theme, my favorite dish to cook at home with friends is a Korean dish called Budae-jiggae. Literally translated to ‘Army Base Stew’, it is a dish I ate a lot growing up in Korea which consists of a base of kimchi stew, with all sorts of westernized ingredients thrown in such as spam, hot dogs, or instant noodles. Being so close to a U.S. military base growing up, this stew was a staple when we would go out for a night on the town.
What’s one ingredient that you can’t live without?
Rice has always been, and will continue to be a constant staple in my life.
What’s your favorite type of music to listen to in the kitchen?
My go to in the kitchen is usually a laid back hip hop artist such as A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, or Kid Cudi. However, if I need to light a fire and get people motivated, Metallica’s Master of Puppets is the album I turn to.
If you could cook for anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
My late Grandfather. He was such a huge influence in the person I have become and I wish he could be here to see it.
Do you know what you’re doing for your Taste of DTX demonstration? If so, can you please elaborate so we know what we’re looking forward to?
I will be making a traditional Tekka Maki, or tuna sushi roll. I look forward to showing off the traditional techniques of sushi rolls, so that guests can go home and try it for themselves.
Are you eager to experience Chef Benjamin Steigers’ culturally inspired Japanese cuisine? Join us at Taste of Downtown Crossing on Sunday, September 24th from 12-3 pm for his live demonstration!
Taste of Downtown Crossing is a celebration of diverse food, culture and entertainment. The event is gated on Avenue de Lafayette; patrons may purchase tickets online prior to the event for $25/person or at the event for $30/person.