Tell us a bit about yourself and your experiences working in some of the amazing restaurants in Vietnam.
Hi, my name is Dat, I am a chef from Hanoi. I have been working in this role for over 9 years. I started when I was 16 years old in a Vietnamese Kitchen which had 3 outlets (buffet, a la carte & banquet) and served 700-1000 customers a day.
It was raw, I started as a cook's helper in the chopping area (we call the position ‘Thớt’) who does the preparation (mise en place) for the wok area. In the beginning all the cooks needed to learn how to be a butcher. We cooked wild meats so every member knew how to butcher and portion the wild animals like wild pig, crocodile, goat, porcupine, tortoises, stone fishes... some of which were needed to be killed at the table to show how fresh ingredients were! 😬
After 2 years at such a young age, I wanted to experience more cuisines and cultures so I decided to work at a Japanese restaurant called Asashi, which was where I first had an opportunity to cook with luxurious ingredients like JP tuna, cod fish and foie gras.
That was when I realized that I wanted to be serious in this field and study the foundational methods of cooking like hygiene and the traditional and modern cooking methods. I took part in a culinary course in Saigon and got a commis position at the renowned La Villa French Restaurant, where Chef Thierry Mounon taught me so much and I fell in love with ‘’haute cuisine’’ as well as French cooking. After finishing the program, I decided to return to Hanoi and for the first time became a chef de partie at The Clover At Ngoc Thuy under the guidance of Chef Denvers Rattan! I came back to Saigon briefly and also had the opportunity to create desserts for the ultra chic Blank Lounge, situated in Vietnam’s tallest building Landmark 81.
Why are you passionate about cooking?
I chose to become a chef when I realized the happiness and joy food provided people. I had a professor in the kitchen who taught me the importance of flavors, food scents and the warmth they can bring to others. The taste of simple recipes can remind people of their childhood, or multicultural dishes can make others think of their favorite country to visit. I enjoy seeing people feel happy when they taste each dish I create for them!!!
Tell us why this particular creation was sparked by the color palette of Wall #204.
The colors remind me of summer sunsets and the bright days living in SaiGon and Phu Quoc, when a young inexperienced cook like myself made many mistakes but still explored new beginnings and the joys of life. The dessert incorporates fresh tropical fruits and it makes me reminisce about those good ol days.
Thank you Chef Dat! Here is the recipe for the dessert by Chef Dat inspired by Color Palette #01 for you to try at home >>
SABLÉ AU SÉSAME WITH TROPICAL FRUITS
Coconut pastry cream, coconut water jelly and spirulina, tropical fruits, peanut sesame crumble and mango compote.
Sablés au sésame
3 Egg Yolks (room temperature)
50g Confectioner's Sugar
100g Salted Butter, soft
175g Plain Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
60g Sesame Seeds
Take the butter out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before starting the recipe and pre-cut it into small cubes. The butter needs to be very soft, but not melted.
Preheat your oven to 160'C/325'F. Prepare a baking tray lined with a baking mat or parchment paper.
Seperate your egg yolks and whites. Keep the egg whites in the fridge for another recipe.
In the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle/leaf attachment, cream the very soft salted Butter and confectioners sugar for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
Add one egg yolk at the time while beating on low speed until all incorporated. Stop to scrape the edges of the bowl with a spatula if needed.