Chef/Author ‘Little Vietnam’ (Lantern) Nhut Huynh
In 2010, Nhut is excited to be involved with Tasting Australia in Adelaide in April/May and 2nd series of Master Chef. He has a Master Class scheduled for the Sticky Rice Cooking School on May 3rd as well as filming for a new cookery/lifestyle program. Bookings here
Nhut Huynh arrived in Australia in 1984 as a refugee from Vietnam. Like many others escaping political change and upheaval, he had dreams of a better life with freedom and opportunity. Nhut began his cookery career as a kitchen hand working on Sydney Harbour on tourist boats. Even though he spoke no English, he persevered and through the support of friends and colleagues he was signed as an apprentice cook. Nhut excelled in practical skills but was left behind when it came to theory, so his employer structured his roster so that he could go to English classes each day to assist with his TAFE study.
After finishing his apprenticeship, like many before him he ventured into the world of commercial cookery to explore his options. After an unremarkable but enjoyable career, Nhut met his future business partner food and wine writer Jeremy McNamara in 2000. The chance meeting with Jeremy turned into a great friendship and within a year Nhut and Jeremy had opened their first restaurant RQ Sydney in Darlinghurst, NSW.
On the drawing board, RQ started life as a casual brasserie serving simple Asian favourites, but as the project came together it evolved into one of Sydney’s early pioneers of upmarket Asian eateries. RQ was an immediate success and Nhut quickly developed a signature style of Vietnamese inspired dishes prepared in a contemporary style. Reviews and media hype recorded Nhut’s journey, and regular appearances on television and articles in premium food media followed including Australian Gourmet Traveller and Delicious Magazine.
RQ scored well in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide for five years running. In 2006, Nhut and Jeremy decided that there was still a place in the market for the original RQ concept of a fast and funky brasserie named Snakebean Asian Diner was born. Again, Nhut received great food media support for his new venture including special listings in the Good Food Guide.
Nhut has appeared as a regular presenter on Mornings with Kerri-Anne (9 network), Fresh (9 network), Food Safari (SBS) and a wide range of public demonstration events across NSW. Nhut also has spent time teaching at The KOTO project for street kids in Hanoi and in 2004, he was recognised for his contributions to training in cookery with an award from Tourism Training Australia
In 2007, Nhut and Jeremy sold RQ Sydney to free Nhut from full-time commitment to their restaurant operations, and Nhut began work on his first cookery book ‘Little Vietnam’ (Lantern). Nhut travelled widely throughout Vietnam to collect treasured family recipes for his book. Snakebean and Nhut’s wholesale catering division, RQ Catering, continued to thrive and in July 2009, ‘Little Vietnam’ was published to wide acclaim. Nhut is currently working on research for his next book and is engaged as a training consultant specialising in Asian cookery, private and corporate cooking classes and appearing as guest chef at events nationally.
What started as a dream for a penniless farm boy with no English in a strange land has become a reality. Nhut Huynh continues to surprise and delight diners and his colleagues with his unique take on Vietnamese inspired cuisine in Australia. Bookings for his master class are now open in the Sticky Rice Cooking School Calendar.