THE FIRST OVERSEAS-VIETNAMESE CHEF/RESTAURANTEUR IN VIETNAM
TRISTAN NGO, CHEF-FOUNDER OF SKEWERS AND THE ELBOW ROOM
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
The Elbow Room: theelbowroomsaigon
Operating hours: Mon-sat: 11am-2pm; Mon-sun: 5pm-10:30pm