Former Duke’s Grocery chef Alex McCoy was among the final four contestants on Food Network Star before he was cut in Sunday night’s episode. But the chef isn’t wasting any time moving on to the next big project: He’s set to open his own bar and restaurant—whose name he’s not yet revealing—at 845 Upshur Street NW in Petworth sometime in October.
McCoy is taking the idea of the expat bars he encountered while traveling throughout Southeast Asia and opening one up at home. (Meta, yes.) These bars frequented by travelers are the kinds of places “where you can get a really phenomenal authentic curry, but then you can also get some of the dishes that the owner has brought with them from their travels, whether it’s from home or from living in Bali or traveling to Japan,” McCoy explains.
They also tend to be welcoming, come-as-you-are type places: “There’s a bunch of Germans hanging out, a bunch of South Africans, some Brits, some Americans, and by the end of the night, everyone’s like best friends… It’s just the feeling that anyone can come, no matter where they’re from, who they are, and have a place that they feel comfortable immediately.”
McCoy’s menu will feature “authentic regional dishes” from throughout Southeast Asia, but also things like an Australian burger with sweet chili sauce, grilled pineapple, and pickled beet root. “There’s so many Australians that live in Southeast Asia. They’re all scuba instructors… And at night, they run these really funky burger bars,” McCoy explains.
Everything from noodles to bread to sauces will be housemade, and McCoy plans to work with local farms to grow some ingredients that are difficult to find here, like pea eggplant, kaffir lime, and turmeric. “We really want to nail these recipes and make sure that the flavors that we’re bringing are as honest and true to the flavors that you get when you’re traveling in Southeast Asia,” McCoy says.
McCoy has traveled around Southeast Asia several times, including trips to Indonesia and Thailand within the past year. He’ll be taking his kitchen team back to Thailand in a couple weeks to get a taste for the country’s flavors.
“We’ve got a couple really good friends that own bars that we’ll be working with and playing around in their kitchens with their chefs,” McCoy says. “And I want as many grandparents’ recipes as I possibly can get.”
Photo courtesy Alex McCoy