International Women's Day 2022.
Vietnamese women are strong and just about everyone knows it!
Chef Hau is the Sous Chef at KOTO Villa and has been with us for over 14 years. She’s an inspiration for many of our female chefs. Cooking is her true passion and we’re beyond lucky to have her here at KOTO Villa to share her vast knowledge and expertise with the next generation of KOTO chefs. We asked her a few questions this #IWD2022 and invite you to read on about this industry leader here in Vietnam.
Who is one female chef who inspires you?
Chef Nguyen Dzoan Cam Van, the Vietnamese culinary expert, is my inspiration. Few people would guess that she came into cooking later in life, after being a literary teacher in Saigon. It was the need to support her children that saw her become a chef and since then she’s achieved many, many accolades. She’s continuously displayed such a tenacious spirit even through so much adversity. I admire a strong woman and someone who displays such optimism and of course, is a cooking legend!
How long have you known you wanted to be a chef?
I’ve known I’ve wanted to be a chef since I was a little girl. There was no doubt in my mind and so after I finished high school, I studied at the School of Economics Tourism School.
I had the opportunity to work at one of the first European-style restaurants in Hanoi, Bobby Chinn. My passion for cooking and dedication to the field provided me with a lot of experience. I was the Head Chef then I had a baby and took one year off to look after my son. I’d heard about KOTO from a friend and had worked with some trainees at internships at Bobby Chinn so I decided to apply to KOTO.
I wanted to share my passion and knowledge for cooking with the younger generation. I get the best of both worlds here because not only is it a meaningful job to hold, it’s my true passion. I love that I get to help others and create delicious dishes. I’ve been with KOTO for 14 years now and nothing makes me happier than seeing a trainee gain confidence in the kitchen.
Do you think its hard for women in this male-dominated industry?
I don’t find it particularly difficult. As women, we naturally try our best in all situations. Women are respected for cooking in Vietnam and so it's a respected profession to be a chef. If you have passion, you can do anything with the heart.
However, I understand that we do have the added pressure and responsibility of achieving a balance which men don’t face. With no marriage and family, it is easier for a woman to focus solely on her career. That’s what I did in the initial stages but I wanted a family too. So, finding a role that complements that was important for me. If you’re unhappy in your private life, it will affect the quality of your work.
Do you have any advice for women trying to break into the industry?
Yeah, I think I have some tips. Here are three things if you’re new to this career that I will think help anyone on their journey.
Always be trying to improve your skill set by being dedicated to always learning something new. The best chefs learn from those around them. There are thousands of years of knowledge passed down.
Always be willing to learn and be eager to learn new things and enjoy the journey!
You’ve got to have the drive and ambition to make it. You have to want it!