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A Menu Darling

Lena Katz | April 19, 2019


Chef Chung Chow shares a SPAMtastic™ menu with some of NYC’s food influencers

Have you ever had SPAM® Loco Moco? It’s a breakfast that’ll sustain you all day. SPAM® fried rice? A time-honored tradition! What about SPAM® classic and truffle musubi? We’re getting a little more gourmet now.

How about a delicate homemade SPAM® agnolotti pasta, bathed in mouthwateringly rich truffle cream? The only way you’ve had that is if you’ve eaten at Noreetuh, a restaurant in New York’s East Village, where that pasta dish is a signature menu item.

A joint venture between three up-and-coming restaurateurs from Hawaii, Noreetuh elevates the SPAM® brand to gourmet heights even while presenting a recipe with only four ingredients.

First featured in Inside Hormel Foods in early 2017, Chef Chung Chow has been on the company’s radar ever since. Hawaiian chefs have always had a special expertise with the SPAM® brand, and being raised in Oahu, Chef Chung was known for it – appearing regularly at Hawaii Food + Wine, and making headlines from the moment he opened his New York City venture.

In the Spotlight

Recently, Hormel Foods and the SPAM® brand team had the pleasure of hosting a luncheon at Noreetuh for many of the city’s notable Asian-American food influencers. Chef Chung prepared a very special four-course meal that starred SPAM® classic in every dish. Most in attendance had grown up eating and loving the SPAM® brand, so the event was not an introduction so much as an inspiring showcase of how a skilled chef can work with an iconic product.

First to arrive, Maggie Chen of @savorysweetlive who took a few minutes to chat with SPAM® brand manager Brian Lillis –a product expert and longtime Hormel Foods employee who travels around the nation promoting and safeguarding this iconic product’s reputation. Photos were snapped. POG (pineapple orange guava juice) mimosas were poured.

Other guests made their way in, greeted by Hormel Foods staff and Noreetuh’s General Manager, Jin Ahn. Media mingled with Instagrammers, bloggers and even a few other chefs.

SPAM Agnolotti

Noreetuh’s SPAM® agnolotti pasta, bathed in mouthwateringly rich truffle cream

Bravo’s Top Chef star Leah Cohen took precious time away from running her restaurants and working on her latest cookbook to enjoy Chef Chung’s hospitality. As it happened, she was seated with the creative team from Chowhound – who knew her from previous filming. We can only hope that the conversation inspired potential future collaborations.

Over at the table with the very best natural light, Maggie Cho and her friendly colleague Jean Lee of @jeaniuseats and @korean_nyc were busy snapping each dish from every possible angle – posting IG Stories to share in the moment. It’s a tossup whether the official event photographer or influencers captured the shot of the day.

But no doubt, the flavors were what every guest of the event will remember. Most people think of the SPAM® brand as a cupboard staple, not a delicacy – but Chef Chung disproved that belief with every bite. And though the exact menu may not ever be repeated (although … you never know!), we now know that this humble pantry icon can be elevated to gourmet status in the hands of an expert.

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