News for the Hospitality Executive
HUE, Vietnam (19 April 2011) – Hue’s past may be in ruins, but its future is in restaurants.
Internationally-trained Chef Thua An has returned to his hometown on a mission to rediscover the purity of century-old Hue cuisine, so the fabled flavors can be savored again, this time by contemporary diners at La Residence Hotel and Spa.
Aside from his knives, the newest executive chef of La Residence brings with him more than seven years of specialization as an executive in the hotel food and beverage industry. His first order of the day at Le Parfum is to refresh the Vietnamese side of the menu in favor of Hue’s distinctive dishes--famed for their refined presentation, skillful preparation and subtle harmonies.
After more than 30 years away, the 37-year-old chef says accepting the appointment in Hue was one of the most exciting moves of his career.
“I’ve cooked Vietnamese food all my life, but a cuisine is always mixed with influences of the place,” he said. “If you want to make a dish that’s true to tradition, you have to live with the people, eat with them and see how they do it. That’s why I came back to Hue, to know its identity, which is also my own.”
Born in Hue to parents who immersed him in the finer points of Chinese and Vietnamese cooking, Chef Thua An studied the culinary arts and launched his career on the island of New Caledonia, where he expanded his expertise to the spheres of French and Mediterranean cuisine.
After successfully directing the kitchens at the five-star Hotel Le Meridien in New Caledonia, and the five-star Bora Bora Nui Resort in French Polynesia, Chef Thua An, now a French national, returned to Vietnam in late 2007. He completed a three-year stint as executive chef of Princess d’Annam Resort and Spa before arriving to take command of Le Parfum at La Residence.
Once he’s pared the Vietnamese portion of the menu down to its roots, Chef Thua An plans to draw up a Hue-inspired fusion corner, where he will combine local ingredients and techniques with those from his store of expertise in French, Italian and Japanese traditions.
But Chef Thua An’s first priority, he says, is to refine his primordial starters, bun bo and banh canh, Hue-style. “It’s a necessary part of the menu,” he says. “I think if you come to Hue, and you don’t eat bun bo, you lose something.”
The other Hue dishes Chef Thua An features will depend largely on what he finds on his forays into the city’s intricate culinary landscape. “I want guests to experience a truly authentic menu,” he says. “If the only Vietnamese meal they experience in Hue is in Le Parfum, I’d like them to be able to say they’ve had the real thing.”
General Manager of La Residence, Anthony Gill, says reconnecting with an authentic, unaffected dish as it was enjoyed decades ago, could only be accomplished by someone like Chef Thua An.
“As a Hue native and first-rate chef, he’s personally invested in tracking the city’s time-honored oral traditions to the obscure neighborhoods and nameless restaurants where they still survive, in order to bring them back to the table at Le Parfum,” he said.
For his part, Chef Thua An is all set to explore the culinary identity of his hometown. “I’m eager to go around the city and discover the origins of Hue cuisine; I believe it has the potential to be enjoyed by everyone.”
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