GREAT NEWS! The Banh Mi Handbook, released on July 8, 2014, is in its fourth printing!
For more -- such as a sneak peek, details of the book's photo shoot, and press reviews, jump to this page.
WHAT I DO
Along with cookbooks, I write articles for magazines and newspapers. My work has appeared in many publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Sunset, Bon Appetit, Cooking Light and Saveur. In 2015, I became a contributing editor to an exciting new publication, Rodale's Organic Life. Additionally, I've written Asian food and culture pieces for Lonely Planet Vietnam (2012) and Cornbread Nation 6 by the Southern Foodways Alliance.
I've appeared on both local and national television programs and been interviewed on many radio programs, including NPR's Splendid Table, Martha Stewart Living's Everyday Food, and KCRW's Good Food. A guest speaker at food events, I've been featured at the Sydney International Food Festival and the Culinary Institute of America’s World of Flavors conference, among others. I've also given talks at libraries and educational institutions such as Yale University.
I teach cooking classes at locations such as the Institute for Culinary Education in New York, San Francisco Cooking School, and Love Apple Farms (Santa Cruz). In 2013, I was thrilled to become a Craftsy cooking instructor so I can teach people all over the world. General information about cooking classes is here.
I also provide consulting services on projects in the areas of food/hospitality, education, and business. My clients include restaurants, food manufacturers, and food importers and distributors. I've worked with local eateries such as Charlie Hong Kong in Santa Cruz and large entities like Nestle foods.
Best Asian Cookbooks of the Last 25 Years
2007, 2010, 2013 Finalist
2010 Favorite Cookbooks
Best 10 Cookbooks of 2009, Best Summer 2012 Cookbooks, Best 2014 Cookbooks
COOKBOOKS & ACCOLADES
My debut cookbook, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, was published by Ten Speed Press in October 2006. A landmark publication with over 175 recipes, the work is the first comprehensive full-color cookbook devoted to Vietnamese food in the English language. Leading food writers have praised the book for its attention to detail, accessibility, and thorough research. I work to demystify Vietnamese cuisine while bridging culinary traditions with contemporary practices.
In 2007, the book was among the select finalists for a James Beard Foundation award (best Asian cookbook). That year, the Vietnamese cookbook also earned two International Association of Culinary Professionals award nominations (best first book and best international book). The 2009 Slate.com food issue included me in their listing of "recipe detectives" who excel at translating foreign flavors for American cooks.
My second book did not focus on Vietnamese cooking. The subject and title was Asian Dumplings -- one of my all-time favorite foods. In May 2009, I launched a site called Asian Dumpling Tips as a companion to the book. Since June 2010, new information on Asian dumplings has resided on Viet World Kitchen -- which has evolved into in an exploration and conversation on Asian food, cooking and culture.
Asian Dumplings was an award finalist in the International Association of Culinary Professionals cookbook competition. It was also selected as one of the best or favorite books by National Public Radio, Cooking Light, and CHOW.com.
I've been interested in digital publications and apps (ebooks) for years, and been collaborating with publishers to experiment on developing potent ebooks. In Spring of 2011, Asian Dumplings was released as an enhanced ebook with instructional videos to guide cooks through the various shapes. It was one of the first of its kind to show the potential of ecookbooks. Learn more from this page.
The Asian Market Shopper iPhone app was released by Chronicle Books in May 2011. The app is a handy tool for understanding how to buy Asian ingredients -- what to look for, how to pronounce things, preferred brands.
My third cookbook, Asian Tofu was published by Ten Speed Press on February 28, 2012. On that date, we released the book as a traditional print book, regular ebook (a digital version of the printed book), and an enhanced ebook that's just like the printed book but with video tutorials and travelogues; see the ebook buying guide for details. In February 2013, we released an eBooklet for DIY tofu making called Making Soy Milk and Tofu at Home.
Asian Tofu Book Trailer
In advance of publication, Asian Tofu was reviewed and featured in Martha Stewart Living, San Francisco magazine, and Publishers Weekly. The work has been deemed a 'game changer' and I hope that it informs and inspires more people to enjoy tofu as a delicious food, not a denial food. Read more about the Asian Tofu cookbook and reviews on Amazon.
Asian Tofu, was selected by National Public Radio and the New York Times for the 2012 summer cookbook picks! It also garnered accolades from Eater.com and SeriousEats.com for being one of essential and favorite books of 2012. Food.52 selected Asian Tofu for the 2013 Piglet cookbook tournament. In March 2013, the book made the final cut for an IACP cookbook award!
The latest cookbook is a fun one called The Banh Mi Handbook, released in July 2014. It's my way of drawing people into Vietnamese cooking through the ease and simplicity of making a darn good sandwich. Three weeks after the book release, Ten Speed Press ordered a reprint. Many people are interested in bold flavors and banh mi sandwiches are fabulous way to enjoy and explore them.
PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS AND EDUCATION
I'm a culinary professional and member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), James Beard Foundation (JBF), and Les Dames d'Escoffier International (LDEI). I co-founded the Asian Culinary Forum, a educational non-profit based in San Francisco.
I'm also a proud alum of the University of Southern California, where I earned my bachelor's and master's degrees in business and communication management. (Go Trojans!) As a Rotary International Foundation Fellow, I attended the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where I polished my Mandarin Chinese and ate lots of terrific Asian food.
MY CULINARY TRAINING
Since the age of 10 (when I gained a certain command of English), I've been reading and studying cookbooks. I perused cookbooks, both East and West, as if they were novels. I watched PBS shows by Julia Child and Martin Yan and observed their moves and took in their knowledge. I fantasized about doing something in food but first generation immigrants 'don't do that.' I've been a bank examiner, university administrator, and communication consultant. But in the midst of those careers, I cooked and read the classics as well as new interpretations of food, trying to find cultural and culinary links between cuisines. I read Vietnamese cookbooks in English and Vietnamese, trying to figure out how to best present the unfamiliar and 'exotic' to a broad audience of cooks.
To test my determination, I cooked professionally for 1 year in the early 1990s, first at the now-defunct City Restaurant (owned by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger) in Los Angeles, and then in catering. It was the hardest work I'd ever done. Hands down. My father offered to put me through cooking school, a bold move on his and my mom's part since they didn't initially take to me getting a university degree and wanting to work with my hands. But I demurred and figured that I'd be better off in something more conventional so I got a graduate degree and forged a career as a communication consultant for clients in education. I wrote as a freelancer on the side to hone my writing and research skills and eventually built a website and won a cookbook contract with Ten Speed Press for my first work, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. It's the book that I've been wanting to write since I was 10!
I have no formal culinary training. I never went to cooking school. My life-long curiosity about food, cooking, and culture fuels my work. At the end of the day, my aim is to (1) capture the human connections to food and (2) demystify Asian food without dumbing it down. There's no reason why more people shouldn't include good Asian cooking into their rotation.
Feel free to send messages, post comments, and join in the fray. I look forward to e-meeting you.
Please do not copy and re-post content from this site without getting permission from me first. That's a rights infringement and just plain bad form!