In con­ver­sa­tion... with Chef Luke Nguyen, APT Cruises

Onboard Hospitality - - Inside This Issue -

Viet­namese-Aus­tralian chef, Luke Nguyen, is an am­bas­sador for APT cruises in Asia where he is cre­at­ing ex­clu­sive culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ences be­ing served on the Mekong and Ir­rawaddy

My pas­sion for Asian food be­gan al­most from the mo­ment my fam­ily ar­rived in Aus­tralia. My mother is Viet­namese/ Chi­nese and I was born in Thai­land and raised in the fam­ily restau­rant in Cabra­matta, New South Wales.

At 23 I opened my own restau­rant, the Red Lan­tern in the Surry Hills district of Syd­ney, but at the busiest time of the year, be­tween Christ­mas and New Year, I trav­elled to Viet­nam to learn more about the cui­sine that is my her­itage.

My reg­u­lar cus­tomers be­gan to ask if they could come with me on my culi­nary ven­tures and this has now be­come a re­al­ity by work­ing as an am­bas­sador for river cruise spe­cial­ist, APT. Food is a re­ally im­por­tant ex­pres­sion of the Viet­namese cul­ture. It tells a story of the land and of the his­tory of the Viet­namese peo­ple, and my role helps en­sure that pas­sen­gers sam­ple a true taste of Asia.

I like to add un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing my tours of Ho Chi Minh City and en­cour­age visi­tors to sam­ple the street food made from recipes that have been passed on from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion. Vis­it­ing the ar­eas where my par­ents were raised gives guests the chance to meet the peo­ple I know and love while see­ing the way fam­i­lies bond over food and gain­ing an un­der­stand­ing for the way the lo­cal com­mu­nity in­ter­acts.

At the same time, it is some­times good to get away from the bus­tle of the city so it can be a wel­come re­lief to set sail down the Mekong. When cook­ing on­board I like to in­clude some of my favourite dishes such as tiger prawns served with young green rice cakes or al­ter­na­tively roast pork belly with crack­ling.

Viet­namese food takes on Chi­nese, French and Thai in­flu­ences so what you taste is a unique bal­ance on the palate along­side lots of colour and tra­di­tion.

Next year I am ex­cited to of­fer APT guests who visit Ho Chi Minh City as part of their river cruise, ex­clu­sive ac­cess to my new restau­rant, Viet­nam House, to sam­ple a spe­cial tast­ing menu de­signed to show­case dishes from across the coun­try.

The restau­rant is in a re­stored colo­nial build­ing that once housed the famed

Café L’Im­pe­rial in the early 1900s and the build­ing re­tains many of the orig­i­nal fea­tures which add char­ac­ter.

Viet­namese food is a stun­ning com­bi­na­tion that al­ways sur­prises and de­lights and that’s what keeps peo­ple com­ing back for more. •

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