In May, we shared a video trailer for Charles Phan's new cookbook, Vietnamese Home Cooking, out this Tuesday, September 25. Besides recipes, the book includes technique-driven fundamentals, detailed instructional photography, and Phan's personal story from Vietnamese refugee to San Francisco restaurateur. We spoke with Phan today as his first book releases: "My philosophy has always been to bring a little piece of Vietnam back to the States, whether street food or home recipes, made with local ingredients. Some chefs are more focused on new styles or technique, whereas I'd rather bring back a dish already created in Vietnam and tweak it."
In asking Phan what basics the average reader might need to successfully pull off Vietnamese cooking, he wisely notes, "Whenever possible, learn how to eat something first before you learn how to cook it... If you have some idea of what a dish tastes and looks like, you can work from there.”
Phan soon begins work on a second cookbook, all while managing multiple restaurants and raising a family. We asked how he keeps it all going. “The key is to partner with others," he says. "Learn how to delegate; learn how to let go and trust people.”