Chef de Cuisine, Tran Van Son, of Square One French Vietnamese restaurant in Park Hyatt Saigon shares with The Yum List his passion for cooking and some favourite dishes.
Who or what inspired you to become a chef?
My mom is my greatest inspiration in pursuing this career. As a youngster, I frequently helped my mom with her cooking. Her passion and dedication in cooking lit a fire within me and gave rise to the goal of becoming a chef so that I could spread joy to others by cooking and serving them good food.
What do you consider to be your cooking style?
I would consider my cooking style to be contemporary. I incorporate modern techniques into traditional Vietnamese dishes to further enhance the flavours and to leverage them to international standards.
What ingredients do you tend to include in your dishes?
Vietnam is known for its wide range of vegetables and tropical fruits, and I often combine them into most of my dishes to boost the earthy and fruity flavours of the food.
What is your favourite dish that you love to cook at Park Hyatt Saigon?
Codfish fillet pineapple, chilli, fish sauce and steamed rice is my signature dish. It is an elevated version of a Vietnamese dish which uses mackerel fish. This dish is quite special because it reminds me of home. My mother always cooked this as our traditional family dish.
What do you think are the qualities that make a chef a professional?
A professional chef should not only have a passion for food but must also possess work ethics. Chefs should see their job and their accomplishment as their own children and learn to take care of those children so that they can grow better. Moreover, teamwork is an important factor. Teamwork enables you to learn from others and to support one another to be more creative with food. The success of the dishes relies extensively on teamwork.
How do you transform traditional Vietnamese dishes into something more exquisite?
Vietnamese dishes themselves are very diverse and profound in both flavours and methods of cooking. By integrating higher quality ingredients and experimenting with them, Vietnamese food can become more exquisite and innovative.