Welcome to Chef Reveals, a new feature to Eater Philly and @eater_philly on Instagram, in which we display the day-to-day essentials of the city's top chefs all shot from above by the very talented TommyBaboon. This week, Stock chef Tyler Akin shows off what inspires him.
[ : @tommybaboon] Chef @ttakin's @stockphilly essentials: A Splendid Exchange, spoon, wedding bouquet, palm sugar, lime, keffir lime leaves, Thai chilies, green juice, @phillystylebagels, @reanimatorcoffee, $4.99 cleaver, @theofficialai3 bobblehead, Miller Lite, @kingpush on the iPhone, @pizzacamp pizza box. The link in the bio has the details. Tag your own #eaterchefreveals for a chance at a regram.
Stock's m.o. is simple despite its labor-intensive menu: a pretty, 18 seat BYOB specializing in elevated pho among other southeast Asian eats, differentiating itself from the soup halls of South Philly and Fishtown with composed bowls brimming with locally raised proteins and top shelf spices. Though, nearing its second birthday, the restaurant has undergone a conceptual evolution. What started as a primarily Vietnamese menu has since turned into a food tour of southeast Asia: Cambodia by way of prahok katee (a bud-punching pork dip); Myanmar's mouth-coating Burmese cold noodles; Thailand with its especially-Instagrammable khao poon, and then back to its Vietnamese roots with a pho gà (chicken pho) and a mushroom pho that would impress even the most carnivorous of eaters. The restaurant still hums along, the kitchen aromas spilling onto Girard Avenue, the guests inside slurping and smiling away. Stock opened to the delight of the neighborhood, and now, two years in, Akin's food captivates the appetites of those far beyond Fishtown's borders.
Explained in clockwise order from the picture above (start top left):
A Splendid Exchange: Akin's high school history teacher, Ellis Wasson, taught him to "think as a globalist". "In an era when locally sourced restaurants dominate the conversation, let's still remember the bounty of flavors, variety, and benefits to our partners that international trade provides us. "
Wedding bouquet: Stock prides itself on its "mom and pop" ideals — small and heartfelt. "I love my wife Nicole, she makes every day at work more fun and makes our regulars and newcomers alike feel special. She physically works her tail off despite being six and a half months pregnant."
Spoon: "At the risk of putting a target on my back, I find the spoon fixation among cooks hilarious. I cringe when I see a roll with more spoons than knives. That said, this particular spoon is really important to me. I bought it to make quenelles when I worked pastry at Komi in DC and I've probably tasted 99% of the food I've ever served with this spoon." (Nicole Akin: "One time I hid his spoon, and he threatened to not open the restaurant until he found it.")
Palm sugar, lime, kaffir lime leaves, Thai chili (in bowls): These ingredients define Stock's menu. "The lime leaves mostly come from a tree that Nicole's mom Chan gave us before she moved to Florida from Thailand last year. It now grows in our living room and is a reminder of a wonderful woman and Nicole's Thai ancestry."
Green juice or smoothie: "Have to have it every day, big believer in green juice."
Philly Style Bagel: A salt bagel with butter from the new bagel shop has become a daily ritual. "Collin, Jon, Desiree, and Ashley are some of the best folks around and we couldn't be more happy for their success."
ReAnimator coffee: "Two of the most earnest and honest dudes around, and they happen to roast the best coffee in the city. We use a custom crazy dark roast that they would never ever sell you for our Vietnamese iced coffee at Stock."
Cleaver: "$4.99 Asian market purchase that is clutch for opening strangely packaged Asian dry goods and shaving palm sugar. I got this right before I helped open Little Serow in DC almost five years ago. Nicole and I organize most of our travels around visiting Thai restaurants, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Little Serow is the best Thai restaurant in America. I am so proud to have worked for Johnny [Monis], he taught me how to think about food and how to be a good boss. Solo (Mike Solomonov) and Monis are two of the most humble, relatable, and talented chefs out there — I really lucked out."
Allen Iverson bobblehead: "I look at this on my desk every day. Growing up in Wilmington, Philly was the big city for me. Barkley made me a Sixers fan, Iverson reinforced it. Iverson probably played some small and indirect role in why I ended up here. "
Miller Lite: "Something about the retro packaging that makes it taste better than it did during the awful metallic blue phase. Maybe I'm a sucker. What I am for sure is a big believer in the institution of the shift beer(s), even in a BYO, it's a must. "
Pusha T (on iPhone): I've been his biggest fan since the first time I heard Grindin by Clipse. "I listen to everything, but really, I'm a rap nerd. Pusha T: best rapper alive, no question."
Pizzeria Beddia box: "Joe [Beddia] is a good friend and when we were deciding what kind of place Stock should be, the ethos that defines his shop definitely helped shape what we became. Can't wait for the book, or the next 41st dough I can get my hands on." (Beddia only makes 40 pies a day)