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September 08, 2016

Philly chef reacts to online backlash over pho video

'I never intended to offend anybody,' says Stock's Tyler Akin

A Philadelphia chef said he never anticipated for the backlash he's facing after an online food magazine featured him in an instructional video on how to make and eat pho, a traditional Vietnamese dish.

The original post by Bon Appétit Magazine published Tuesday – whose headline has since been changed and its accompanying YouTube video made private – was "PSA: This Is How You Should be Eating Pho." In the video, Akin suggests techniques to get the most out of the dish.

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Akin, the chef and owner of the Southeast Asian BYO restaurant Stock in Fishtown, warns viewers that adding too much sriracha or hoisin sauce could compromise the broth's flavor. He later shows a technique for how to eat the dish in the two-minute long video.

Social media users have since harshly criticized the magazine for featuring a "white guy teaching Asian(s) how to eat pho and use chopsticks."

Akin is a former chef at Little Serow, a Thai restaurant in the District of Columbia, where dishes go for $49 per person. He opened Stock two years ago after working in the kitchen at Zahav.

In a phone interview Thursday with PhillyVoice, Akin said he never wished for this kind of response.

"My only comment is that I never intended to offend anybody," Akin said, "and I think that's all I can say."

Bon Appétit responded to the backlash Thursday by changing the headline on the post to "We're in Love with This Pho" and issuing an apology above the original article, that reads:

"Hey Guys,

In regards to a recent video we posted about making and eating pho, we want you to know that we hear you and we are listening. It is never our intention to offend our readers, which happened in this case. Thank you for calling us out. We believe in celebrating food from all cultures – we just want to eat and talk about food, all the time. Moreover, we care deeply about supporting local and international food communities.

At the same time, we never want to be a space that allows for harassing comments and threats toward chefs and restaurant owners. Ever. That's not what we're about. Which is why we have taken down this video.

Moving forward, we will continue to strive to get people to cook smarter and eat better. And we will always be mindful of the messages we share.

Thank you, as always, for being a part of what we do."