These are a few of my favourite things – Luke Nguyen
It’s not every day that you get to meet one of your favourite celebrity chefs and tell them how much of an inspiration they are to you. I got my chance to do that today when I met Luke Nguyen at a book signing lunch. For those who don’t know Luke Nguyen, he is part of the extraordinary team at Red Lantern (which he owns with his partner, his sister and her partner), the best modern Vietnamese restaurant I know in Sydney. Luke has authored and contributed recipes to some amazing cookbooks, including two that I own personally (Secrets of the Red Lantern and The Songs of Sa Pa) and is the host of a couple of great cooking shows (Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam and Luke Nguyen’s Greater Mekong) that feature on SBS. Why is Luke an inspiration? Well, it’s more to do with his family’s life story that is the source of my inspiration. A couple of years ago, I bought Secrets of the Red Lantern; a book that is half memoir (written by Luke’s sister, Pauline) and half cookbook (recipes written by Luke, and Pauline’s partner Mark Jenson). The memoir side of the book tells of the Nguyen family’s escape from Vietnam to Australia during the war, which is not unlike the journey my parents had taken. The cookbook side presents a wonderfully diverse menu of Vietnamese dishes that are not unlike the dishes I eat with my family. When I read the memoir, I realised that being born in Australia had disconnected me from my family’s history and at that point I started my foodie’s road to self-discovery, which I have mentioned in a previous post. Because of Luke and his family’s willingness to share their story, I was inspired to ask my parents to share their story and as a result, we are a much closer family. I have discovered so many great things about my heritage, my family and Vietnamese cuisine that I probably would never have thought to ask out about if it wasn’t for Luke Nguyen. This is why he is on my ‘favourites’ list. To make my day even more special and memorable, I took my Mum to meet Luke too. My two greatest inspirations in the one place – what a lucky girl I am.