World Chefs: Phan shares food, journey from Vietnam

Tue Oct 9, 2012 10:24am EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Vietnamese-born chef Charles Phan shares his passion for his homeland and tips about how to cook its delicious food in his first cookbook, "Vietnamese Home Cooking".

Phan and his family fled to Guam from Vietnam in 1975 before settling in San Francisco a couple of years later. In 1995 he opened his restaurant Slanted Door, which has won acclaim for its modern interpretation of traditional Vietnamese food. He now runs six other eateries in San Francisco.

The 50-year-old spoke to Reuters about his passion for Vietnamese food, his plan to open a New Orleans-inspired bar and his future plans.

Q: What is the goal of your first cookbook?

A: "It's way to spread the gospel, if you will, about Vietnamese culture and food. We try to do that with our restaurant. The book is another way of bringing that culture to you."

Q: What makes Vietnamese cuisine unique?

A: "The Vietnamese were conquered by the French and the Chinese. On a Vietnamese table, there is always a big platter of fresh vegetable and herbs. In Vietnam, up north, the food is a bit different from the south. You have different climates. In Saigon, it's hot and muggy and tropical so the country ranges pretty widely with its food."

Q: What does Vietnamese cooking have in common with others in Southeast Asia?   Continued...

Charles Phan, chef and author of "Vietnamese Home Cooking", prepares a meal outdoors in Northern California in this undated handout photograph. REUTERS/Eric Wolfinger/Handout