Huyen Chi was my childhood name. Vietnamese cooking was like – a journey to the past – to me; I took this name for that reason.
I learnt first from mum but much more from grand-dad, the head-chef of the the family, an army nurse who travelled from place to place, tasted local food and cooked it.
Grand-dad was grown up in a middle classed family in Hanoi where he observed the ladies of the house prepared meal in Hanoi traditional way.
His chid-hood memory was full of food nostalgia: from the crispy shrimp cake, the crusty Vietnamese baguette dipped into vinegar sauce, the stew fish in clay pot, the green mustard picked in salt and fresh sugar cane, pho, the steamed rice rolled pancake, the chargrilled pork with rice vermicelli and etc.
While my mum was very entailed and strict; my grand-dad, on the other hand, encouraged me to be creative.
Every summer, mum sent me to the grands where I learnt about cooking principle & technique. He then tasted my dishes and suggested the alternatives.
Grown up and going to the UK to study, I kept cooking for friends BUT never thought, I would follow the food path.
When someone suggested “Huyen, you should open a restaurant, you should do something related to food.” I would always said “NO”.
I told them : “Cooking and serving are extremely hard-work job, it requires attentiveness, you must work with heart, but my heart serves only my friends and family.”
Someone said: resisting meant agreeing, trying too hard to refuse meant admitting.
And it was true for me.
As a student, I was working as waiting staff in restaurants, hotels, race court, stadium, canteens and even was working in the kitchen.
At final year of my degree, I realised: I couldn’t resist the food path, it’s in my blood. I became kitchen manager and head-chef of banhmi11, the most famous Vietnamese baguette brand in the UK at the time.
I was working 14 hours and feeling happy, but later I realised that their vision were different from mine. I left them and walked my own journey, started by an 1 month Europe culinary trip. After that, I moved to Vietnam.
I want to learn more, to discover more and to share even more my knowledge and experience about food, particularly Vietnamese food.
Following me and join my journey.
– Huyen Chi –