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Vietnamese cuisine: varied and seductive

Released at: 19:16, 28/09/2017 BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT

Vietnamese cuisine: varied and seductive

Photo: Pullman

Chef Stephan A. Dellner at the Pullman Hotel & Resort and Convention Center Vung Tau shares his thoughts on Vietnam's cuisine and the upcoming plans for the hotel's food and beverage offerings.

by Tue Lam

Did you have a dream of becoming a chef?

Cooking has been a childhood dream of mine, as I loved watching my mother in the kitchen. I think that cooking is an art and just as with other arts, you can give different emotions to people. You can change the raw materials and create amazing tastes and flavors that give different sensations and emotions. This fascinates me. I knew back then that I wanted to not only cook at home but to also have a career in this field and become a Master of the Chefs.

■ What brought you to Vietnam?

The first time, in 2003, was wanderlust; a curiosity about another culture and diversity. My first trip to Vietnam changed my life, and I became crazy for Southeast Asia. It just seemed like another planet and never let me go. I love Vietnam for the flavors, the landscapes, and the people. Coming to Vietnam the first time was life-changing for sure, perhaps because it was all so new and different to the world I grew up in. The food, the culture, the landscapes and the smell; they’re all inseparable.

■ How did you adapt to the new culture?

Living in a culture that is different from your own can be an exciting adventure and a challenging process if you are open-minded and curious like me. Adjusting to a new culture does not mean that you have to change your own, but it’s important to respect those of other people.

■ How do you find Vietnamese cuisine?

Vietnamese food is one of the most varied and seductive on the planet - a delicious mix of the food of its colonial visitors and age-old exotic native flavors, with a diversity of spices and techniques.

It tends to be less spicy, lighter, fragrant and fresh. Meals are leisurely affairs, with many shared dishes served all at once. The cuisine contains this brilliant balance of aromas, heat, sweetness, sourness, and fish-sauciness. As with other Asian cuisine, it’s all about the yin and yang, the sweet and the salty, the cooling and the warming, the fresh and the fermented. It’s a stunning combination that always surprises and delights, and that’s what keeps people coming back for more.

■ What are your thoughts on Vietnam’s current culinary landscape? And what do you think it will become in the future?

To describe it in one word, I would say “Exciting!”. We are now seeing centuries-old culinary traditions fused with a modern twist. The core elements of the cuisine have been shaped by centuries of tradition and the geographical nature of the country. I don’t foresee any major changes to what is the staple diet. From the rice that grows in abundance along the vast deltas of the Red River and the Mekong River and the plentiful sources of fresh fish and seafood caught daily from the never-ending coastline, it’s safe to say that these elements are here to stay.

However, what we are seeing now is that Vietnamese people are more conscious about their health, particularly what food they are eating, where products are coming from, how it was farmed, and if the farming methods are sustainable or not. Restaurants have to be more creative in what they are putting on your plate and care much more about where they are sourcing their produce just to remain competitive. As always, this added competition leads to a richer dining experience for the customer.

What new elements do you bring to Pullman Vung Tau’s wining and dining experience?

My mission is simple: to make dining the heart and soul of Pullman Vung Tau and of the local community, by delivering a dining experience that is excellent, relevant, and authentic. I believe food should tell a story, whether it be about the farmer just 5 km down the road that poured his heart and soul into ensuring that you receive the freshest, highest quality produce, or about the local meat supplier who gives you only the best and healthiest cuts of meat because his vision is aligned with ours. Healthy food is not a luxury, but is readily available to every customer and built into the core of everything we do.

■ What upcoming special activities are there at the hotel?

Every Friday, Saturday and national holiday we present our guests with a large variety of fresh and live ocean and river fish and seafood at our Riviera Restaurant, cooked in different styles, including an outside BBQ, and an assortment of international desserts. Our motto is “Eat as Much as You Can”.

Recently, we opened our new Pastry Shop, “Sweet&Co”, with the finest pastry, cake, sundae cup and Bubble tea selection, which is a unique choice in Vung Tau. We will then present our new chocolate promotions and pralines selection.

The hotel’s main lobby, with “The Junction” concept, will also soon showcase an innovative, cosmopolitan bar menu with a very modern touch. That’s the beauty of working with a team of experts, as you have the talent and expertise to present authentic cuisine and cocktails to a local and international clientele.

■ What is the “Iconic Culinary Destination”?

Welcome to the new age, where people now go somewhere because they want something different, they want an experience and they want it to be simple yet memorable, where Michelin star restaurants sit empty and the local food vendor has a line around the block. Look at Ho Chi Minh City, for example. It is without a doubt the absolute capital of cool, where restaurants have seamlessly fusing designs mashed into the urban landscape, where you sit in a collective of creative hangouts nibbling from a plethora of local and international cuisine. Ho Chi Minh City is now, more than ever, iconic, simply because it offers such a variety of eclectic culinary destinations that nowhere else can offer. This is what I hope we can be known for here at Pullman Vung Tau.

For more information, please visist: http://www.pullmanvungtau.com

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