By Mikkel Hyldebrandt
Blake’s on the Park is expanding its services to now include a new and improved bar food menu. To head that endeavor, they have hired James Bear nominee, chef Sumetra “Sam” Promanee. Peach spoke to Sam about his new gig and how he hopes to elevate the Blake’s experience even more.
Can you tell us a little about your background as a chef?
To make a long story short, my training started as far back as I can remember at my family’s Thai Restaurant where I helped with prepping and cooking as a daily chore. Throughout my teenage years, I worked with different chefs during the food truck boom in the late 90s in San Francisco and Los Angeles California. The most prominent restaurant I worked for was Craft LA (Los Angeles) under Chef Tom Colicchio, where I met my mentor Chef Ray England before joining the Navy. After my time in the Navy, I followed my mentor Chef Ray to Charleston, South Carolina, where we set out to change dining as people are accustomed to. We began doing “Pop-Up” restaurants around Charleston. We would take a butcher shop and make it into popular ramen late night spot. Or take a doughnut shop or a local brewery, and we would make fresh bagels or some of the best fusion dishes. After doing that for 12 years, we had started a Pop-Up revolution that inspired chefs around Charleston.
You have been brought in to design a full and revamped menu for Blake’s on the Park – can you share what will be on the menu?
In designing a menu, I wanted to capture the essence or personality of Blake’s with each dish and have something for everyone on the menu as well. There are currently 14 items that will change seasonally. Here are a few highlights of our current menu: Fried Green Tomatoes, Shrimp Tacos, Garlic Noodles, Lobster Mac and Cheese, Chicken Satay, Quesadillas with Shrimp, Beef or Chicken, Chicken and Waffles, and my unique spin on Nachos – we call it the Twisted Mix.
Blake’s is mainly known as a favorite watering hole – how do you plan to change people’s perception of the place as an eatery?
We don’t want to change people’s perception of Blake’s. I’m new to the area, and I’m learning that Blake’s is a popular destination in Atlanta. I’ve been brought on staff to add a distinctive spin to the typical expectation of bar food.
Why do you think it is important for Blake’s to offer a new and improved menu?
Blake’s has had a presence in the community for over 30 years. I believe the community is deserving of a place where they can enjoy music, meet friends, and have a few drinks without ever having to leave to get great food.
Looking ahead into 2020: where do you hope to take this endeavor?
My goal is to contribute my culinary expertise in preparing outstanding food so that Blake’s customers become familiar with experiencing quality food in a casual atmosphere
In closing, can you list three things that patrons should definitely pick off of the menu?
Of course, my ego would say everything is great on the menu, so you can’t miss it. But if I had to choose only three, they would be the Garlic Noodles, Fried Green Tomatoes, and my Shrimp Tacos.
Anything you’d like to add?
I look forward to bringing my favorite flavors from different regions around the world into our dishes and sharing them with our patrons. Our spectacular New Year’s Eve event will feature a gastronomic display and give customers an opportunity for a sampling of our food.