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Sean Pharr doesn’t like to think of it as “stealing” a spoon.
“It’s more like rewarding myself a spoon for making it through some trials and tribulations,” says the chef and co-owner of Mint Mark.
Typically from every kitchen Pharr has worked in, the spoons represent a parting gift. His collection has swelled significantly, both with spoons he’s “borrowed” and others he’s bought.
Pharr has one Tru, the now-closed Chicago restaurant he worked at, and at least two pastry spoons from Chicago’s NoMi Kitchen, where Pharr was chef de cuisine. He also loves long-handled iced tea stirrers and tiny espresso spoons. One particular spoon in his collection is referred to as “Spoon Tang Clan,” as its head has a Wu-Tang Clan-shaped cut out. “It doesn’t work very well,” he says.
And Pharr’s work kit may or may not have felt a few utensils heavier upon leaving the James Beard House when he did a dinner there with NoMi.
For Pharr, a spoon does more than just create a perfect quenelle or hold butter really well. When cooks end their tenure at Mint Mark, he fully expects to see spoons walk out the door.
“It’s a little bit of your past, a little bit of your pedigree, a little bit about who you are and the experiences you had to go through, and I think every time you pick one up you kind of remember the uphill battle you had in that kitchen to get where you are today,” Pharr says.
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