This week, we meet the chef-owner of S Fine Dining, one of the few upscale-yet-authentic Vietnamese restaurants in Orange County. Vietnamese cuisine was informed the French occupation of that country, and many of those culinary influences thrive at this fine dining restaurant thanks to Chef Dinh's training in classic French technique.
What are six words to describe your food?
Modern, traditional, unique, flavorful, loving, and unforgettable.
What are ten words to describe you?
Loving, independent, strong, determined, introvert, caring, creative, problem-solver, chef, and mom.
What was your first restaurant job?
I never worked in a restaurant before I decided to open my own. The only experience I had in the culinary world was when I opened my bakery, and when I helped my mother in the kitchen.
Where did you train as a pastry chef?
UCLA extension for pastry.
If you weren't a chef, what job would you want?
I would love to be a wedding coordinator.
What's the most undervalued ingredient?
What are the rules of conduct in your kitchens?
Taste, organize, clean and consistent.
One food you can't live without
You're trained in classic French pastry technique and fuse Vietnamese influences into your plated desserts.What traditional Vietnamese dessert elements fuse well with Western ones, and which are better left alone?
Cassava cake with gelato; Sweet dessert soup.
What's the most challenging pastry creation you've ever pulled off, and why was it difficult?
Pulled-sugar art piece. No patience.
What fast food is your least favorite?
Jack in the Box.
What's your best culinary tip for the home cook?
Be adventurous and creative.
What's your after-work hangout?
Home with my husband, children and dog.
If you could cook for one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Oprah– I admired her strength and courage.
What's your opinion of the new series Top Chef Pastry?
Need to show more about pastries than drama.
Who's your favorite celebrity chef?
S Fine Dining, 545 Westminster Mall Drive, Westminster; (714)-898-5092; www.sfinedining.com