Chef Tu David Phu

Chef Tu David Phu’s culinary journey is a captivating blend of heritage and innovation. Raised in Oakland, California, Chef Phu is a first-generation Vietnamese-American with deep roots traced back to Phu Quoc, renowned for its artisanal fish sauce production in Asia. His family has crafted the artisanal Phu Quoc Fish Sauce, often likened to the “Champagne of fish sauces,” since 1895.

Chef Phu’s culinary expertise is a testament to his diverse experiences. He honed his skills in the hallowed kitchens of renowned establishments, ranging from New York’s internationally acclaimed Daniel to San Francisco’s prestigious 2-star Michelin restaurant, Acquerello. Throughout his career, he absorbed the essence of various culinary traditions, from American culinary excellence to classical European techniques. Yet, a profound connection to what he calls “the memory of taste” led him back to his Vietnamese roots.

“That was a huge turning point for me,” said Phu. “As opposed to looking outward to learn more about food, that’s when I realized I had already learned a lot from my mom.” – Chef Tu David Phu

Embarking on a culinary exploration of his mother’s treasured recipes, Chef Tu revisited cherished childhood dishes and embarked on pilgrimages to Vietnam for inspiration. His innovative Vietnamese-California cuisine began to garner recognition in 2016 with his weekly pop-up dining experience, “Ăn.” In 2017, the San Francisco Chronicle crowned him as a Rising Star Chef, marking the beginning of a series of accolades.

Chef Tu’s culinary journey expanded its horizons when he joined Bravo’s Top Chef Season 15 in 2019 and hosted ABC’s Taste Buds: Chefsgiving, a program that received a James Beard Award nomination. Currently, he is co-authoring his first cookbook, titled “THE MEMORY OF TASTE,” alongside James Beard Journalism Award winner Soleil Ho, a prominent figure in the culinary world.

“The Memory of Taste” is not just a cookbook; it’s a celebration of inheritance. It delves into Chef Tu David Phu’s personal journey as a chef, emphasizing the invaluable culinary lessons passed down by his parents, refugees from Phu Quoc. These lessons encompass frugality, zero-waste cooking, and practical gill-to-fin eating. The cookbook features a playful collection of California-Vietnamese dishes like tuna summer rolls and 7-Up nuoc cham, seamlessly integrating Chef Tu’s ambitious and modern culinary style with the food wisdom that nurtured him.

The Main Dish 2024

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