What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I am the executive chef of Anantara Hoi An Resort in Vietnam. I kind of fell into the industry after getting a part time job as a waiter when I was in my teens, then moved to back of house as a commis chef and never looked back. Twelve years later I’m still in the kitchen and loving it.
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
The best part is the creative freedom we have as chefs and the ability to travel anywhere in the world to apply our trade. The kitchen is a high pressure environment, the hours are long and we work weekends and holidays so we tend to live different lives from the normal 9-5 crowd, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
What’s your favorite meal at Anantara Hoi An?
Here at Anantara Hoi An we have a modern version of the traditional Vietnamese clay pot pork belly, slow braised in caramel and star anise and served with sous vide quails egg, purple sweet potato puree and aniseed reduction. I could eat this every day.
A day in the life of a chef is…
… a very busy one.
Early to work to oversee the breakfast operation and catch up with the guests at the first meal of the day is important, the rest of the morning is spent on orders, inspecting deliveries and meeting with our suppliers to ensure product we receive is top notch.
Afternoon we have our lunch service and prepare for any special events we have in the evenings, set dinners, weddings, functions and a la carte operations.
Evenings is usually a busy time running dinner service. Coordinating the kitchen operation is a complicated procedure as we serve multiple restaurants and events out of one central kitchen. After dinner service it’s back to the office to catch up on some paperwork and then it’s home time.
What do you do for fun?
I’m very much an outdoors person. Fishing is a favorite past time of mine as I grew up next to the ocean.
What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?
Honestly I’m not a big wine person, I prefer whiskey which has some interesting pairings with food. Laphroaig single malt with a Black Angus rib eye and blue cheese is always a winner for me.
What’s your view on the food scene in Hoi An?
Hoi An is a dream for anyone who loves food. There are around 450 restaurants, bars and cafes in a very small town, ranging from southern, central and northern regional Vietnamese restaurants, boutique coffee shops that have in house roasteries as well as a variety of western style restaurants. The selection is endless.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
Festive season is always the busiest part of the year for us. We need to plan and prepare for Christmas, New Year’s Eve and various other events we have planned to give our guests unforgettable memories here in Hoi An. In January we start re-working all our a la carte menus, so interesting times ahead!