New pop-up Gingerbug makes debut Monday at Tu with southeast Asian-inspired dishes

Starter culture


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Tu and XBB chef alum Jamey Fairchild says he loves to cook — specifically southeast Asian cuisine — but he loves being a full-time dad more. No longer held hostage by the demanding hours of a professional kitchen, Fairchild is able to pursue his love of cooking on his own time. Starting this Mon. Aug. 26, Fairchild and business partner Chad Dennis will debut their new pop-up concept, Gingerbug, at Tu from 5:30-until, with a small menu and full bar available.

“We decided to go ahead and give it a shot,” says Fairchild, who admits he isn’t uber social media savvy, but is trying to keep Gingerbug’s Instagram as up to date as possible. “I don’t claim to be an expert on any type of food — southeast Asian [cuisine] is why I got into cooking when I was young … with a culture so rich and diverse there are certainly people who will do it better, but I’m giving it my best shot.”

The name Gingerbug, aside from being an instant earworm, has some deeper meaning, too.

“It’s a probiotic starter,” explains Fairchild. “You can use it for sparkling sodas and stuff like that — I love anything fermented, I love the complexity of flavor.” Fairchild says he loves the versatility of the starter culture — it can be “cross utilized” for drinks and to cook with. And “it’s just incredibly delicious.”

You’ll find the ginger bug in Fairchild’s simple Chinese mustard greens, which are cooked with the starter and a dash of salt. The chef says they’re purposefully keeping the pop-up menu small, affordable, and accessible for a variety of eaters. “I definitely don’t want to over extend, first and foremost our goal is to make delicious food every time, we don’t want to try to do too much too soon.”

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Fairchild says a highlight of Gingerbug will always be noodles — but don’t expect any ramen-esque bowls. “In southeast Asian there are so many noodle dishes that aren’t covered a whole lot,” he says. “I want to do it with respect and humility to those cultures, we’ll focus on different noodle dishes, plus a fried or grilled item, and a salad.”

Fairchild notes that they will always try to have gluten free and vegan options available (he worked in kitchens long enough to know what the public wants) so look for GF stir frys and spicy rice noodles. The prices aren’t set yet, but he’s thinking everything on the menu will be in the $8-$14 range. “It’s not a fine dining concept, we want people to have it be a social kind of thing, so they can come in and have a cold beer, noodles, some wings,” says Fairchild.

The chef says he’ll post the pop-up dates, times, and menus weekly on the ‘gram — in addition to the Tu event, they’ll also be at Big Gun Burger on Thurs. Aug. 29 starting at 5:30 p.m. Fairchild hasn’t posted the menu for next week yet, but his recent Instagram posts have included a ba mii nahm yang, roast duck and egg noodle soup; goi pla, thin sliced raw snapper tossed in satstuma and lime juice with pickled tomatillos and sour mango; and sii khrong muu, bite sized pork rib marinated in lightly soured rice and galangal then fried.

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