An Open Love Letter
Looking at first generation Immigrant American cuisines, you’ll find traditional recipes made with traditional ingredients. In California, second wave ethnic cuisines prepare traditional recipes with the bounty of fresh, local California produce and heritage proteins. What would the third evolution of Immigrant American cuisine look like?
I envision dropping the Santa Monica Farmers Market, where we source a large portion of our produce and proteins, in the middle of Vietnam. What would young, Vietnamese-born, Vietnamese-raised, and Vietnamese-trained chefs make with ingredients they may not have seen before? In my mind’s eye, this is New Vietnamese cuisine — a reimagination of Vietnamese flavors for current day California.
I hope this concept also begins to address the question of Asian-American identity. For so many of us, we find ourselves deemed by others not quite Asian enough, yet our experiences aren’t really American either. It’s true that I am nothing like my parents and relatives who immigrated here in the seventies and eighties, and I am also nothing like a young Vietnamese born woman living in Vietnam today. Yet, aren’t I as authentically Vietnamese as they are?
This is my argument through food. While the dishes we serve at Không Tên are in no way traditional, they are one hundred percent authentic. Just as I am.
Executive Chef, Không Tên