Gangsta rap booms loudly on the speakers and the room smells like kimchi. Chicken is being floured for frying, corn is getting shucked, and the crew gathers for the traditional shotgunning of Red Bull. It’s 11 a.m. on a Wednesday and prep for Mae begins.
2016 Eater Young Guns winner Maya Lovelace’s Mae dinners are the perfect amalgam of Appalachian meets Pacific North West meets anything goes. Tonight’s meal is a collaboration with Han Ly Hwang (aka Han-ye) of Kim Jong Grillin’, and surprising dishes such as crispy pork buldak ssam with little gem lettuce, perilla, crispy pork shoulder, gochujang, pimento cheese, scallion salad, and white kimchi are on the menu.
On this evening and many others, diners at Mae — inside the red-doored back room at Old Salt Marketplace deep in NE Portland, Oregon — feast on an abundance of food and alcohol, and all are treated like family.
Here now, a look at a day in the life of Maya Lovelace.
Read next: Eater Young Guns 2016: Meet the Winners
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