Epicure Vietnam

THE FIRST OVERSEAS-VIETNAMESE CHEF/RESTAURANT­EUR IN VIETNAM

TRISTAN NGO, CHEF-FOUNDER OF SKEWERS AND THE ELBOW ROOM

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Tristan Ngo opened Skewers in 2000 and became the first overseas Vietnamese (Viet kieu) restaurate­ur and chef in Saigon. A self-trained chef, restaurate­ur, food writer and food presenter. Tristan grew up in Southern California and graduated from the University of San Francisco School with a degree in Business and Management. After experienci­ng a burnout at his corporate job at a brokerage firm, Tristan hit the road and travelled Europe in pursuit of food, travel and adventure before returning to Vietnam.

WHO/WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATIO­N FOR GETTING INTO THIS INDUSTRY AND WHY?

“Everyday Cooking” with Jacque Pepin in 1982. He is such a joy to watch and introduced me to simple and unpretenti­ous old school French dishes. “Yan Can Cook” with Martin Yan in 1984 was also one of my favourite TV shows to watch back then and it really inspired me because it was the first time I saw an Asian cooking on a Western channel. Last but not least, “The Mediterran­ean Kitchen” by Joyce Goldstein in 1990 changed my life and way of cooking.

CAN YOU NAME 3 UP-AND-COMING INDUSTRY FIGURES TO LOOK OUT FOR IN VIETNAM?

• Viet Hong - Monkey Gallery

• Adrian Chong - Sol Kitchen

• Tri & An - Nous

WHAT’S SOME ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO THOSE LOOKING TO ENTER THE INDUSTRY?

Love what you do and do what you love. Be true to yourself, be passionate, resilient and stay humble and hungry.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST, WHAT’S YOUR HOPE AND VISION FOR VIETNAM’S F&B INDUSTRY?

Don’t lose your character, bring back street food, bring back the hawkers. I miss those late nite noodle knockers (Mì gõ)!

SKEWERS AND THE ELBOW ROOM

Website: shgsaigon.com

Facebook:

Skewers: skewersres­taurantsai­gon

The Elbow Room: theelbowro­omsaigon

Operating hours: Mon-sat: 11am-2pm; Mon-sun: 5pm-10:30pm

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