AS SEEN ON TV

Celebrity Chef Bobby Chinn on Food, Fam­ily and Viet­nam

Oi Vietnam - - Front Page - TEXT BY SAM SINHA IM­AGES PRO­VIDED BY BOBBY CHINN

HOW IS IT THAT A CHI

NESE-EGYP­TIAN, born in New Zealand, ed­u­cated in Cal­i­for­nia, Cairo and the UK ends up be­com­ing doyen of Viet­namese cui­sine and Viet­nam’s fa­vorite adopted son? Ac­cord­ing to The

Mind of a Chef culi­nary leg­end Anthony Bour­dain, the an­swer is sim­ple: “What Bobby doesn’t know about South­east Asian food is not worth know­ing.”

From the open­ing of his very first restau­rant in Ho Chi Minh City, Bobby made a spe­cialty of cre­at­ing mod­ern dishes from tra­di­tional ideas. His ‘ap­ple smoked pork belly, braised cab­bage, egg’ is a con­tem­po­rary take on a Viet­namese clas­sic.

He soon be­came ac­knowl­edged as a world author­ity on South­east Asian cui­sine. Reg­u­lar ap­pear­ances on in­ter­na­tional tele­vi­sion and a best­selling cook­book about the his­tory and nu­ances of Viet­namese food have ce­mented his rep­u­ta­tion and led to his cook­ing for the likes of Bill Clin­ton and Bob Dy­lan.

This is all the more in­cred­i­ble when you con­sider that Bobby only started cook­ing in his 30s. Be­fore that he worked a num­ber of jobs try­ing to find his call­ing. This in­cluded stints per­form­ing as a standup comic, sell­ing seafood to “the mob,” and work­ing as a trader on Wall Street, none of which sat­is­fied him.

He tells me, “I fol­lowed the nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion that we all fol­low. Go to school, go to col­lege, get a de­gree in some­thing that might have value, with­out ever ques­tion­ing my per­sonal hap­pi­ness.”

“Mak­ing money wasn't ex­actly mak­ing me happy. When I left Wall Street, I was open to any­thing and ev­ery­thing. I

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