THE PERFECT MATCH! OF EUROPEAN & VIETNAMESE FOOD | INTERVIEW WITH CHEF HUNGAZIT23/11/2022
As the popular European Union (EU) Pavilion makes its return to Vietnam for FHV 2022 (Booth BJ5-01), we sit down with Chef Hungazit to learn more about the live cooking and pairing shows he has in store and get his take on what makes European and Vietnamese ingredients The Perfect Match!
Q1: Chef Hungazit, please tell us a little about yourself and your experience working with European food and drinks.
A: My name is Hung, people call me Chef Hungazit.
I grew up in a household where my mother was always the main cook in my family. She’s a great cook because she has spent so much of her life in the kitchen taking care of the family. So, I was able to gain an appreciation for taste and tradition, but for my generation, becoming a chef by profession was not taken seriously.
I once told my mother that I wanted to be a chef and I remember she rolled her eyes at me and said that men were not supposed to be in the kitchen. But of course, I became a chef anyway and thankfully things have changed. Cooking is considered a valuable career in Vietnam now.
After 15 years of working in famous restaurants and hotels, I decided to break out on my own to focus on writing cookbooks, developing recipes and cooking tutorials on TV. The Perfect Match! recipe book I’ve created with the EU is one exciting example that has allowed me to explore pairing European ingredients with my homegrown Vietnamese cooking.
I learned basic French cooking techniques and am currently applying those techniques to Vietnamese dishes. I like to use a lot of ingredients from Europe to help expand the dining experience for Vietnamese people. After several years of working in a modern way, I also have some success in the new field of research. European and Vietnamese food can be combined perfectly, the important thing is to understand the culture and taste of the local people to balance the ingredients perfectly.
Q2: Why do you think European food is becoming more popular in Vietnam?
A: I think it’s two-fold. Firstly, Vietnamese consumer trends are changing including a greater expectation for higher quality food and drink products.
Secondly, the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which came into effect in August 2020, has been bringing mutual business opportunities and giving consumers in Vietnam even more access to a wider variety of European products.
Q3: In your opinion, what are the unique characteristics that make European ingredients stand out?
A: I think with strict European standards based on criteria such as safety, quality, authenticity, affordability and organic certification, those are definitely strengths that other markets cannot meet. These are very relevant topics right now in the minds of Vietnamese consumers.
Q4: You’re here as part of the EU’s ‘Perfect Match!’ campaign. Please tell us what you think makes European food and drink products so ideal for pairing with local Vietnamese ingredients?
A: I think high-quality European ingredients, when combined with local ingredients, will bring a different contrast but have a mutual meaning. The next generation in Vietnam has started to get used to modern flavours. It is very important to try new ways of exploring new experiences for Vietnamese people.
Q5: Can you give us some practical examples of pairing recipes?
A: A good example is grilled European pork ribs and shrimp paste served with apple salad.
To me, this is one of the best dishes I like to make using Spanish pork ribs combined with Vietnamese spices. It’s a delicious dish that balances succulent, high-quality EU meat with recognisably Vietnamese flavours.
Q6: And finally, where will visitors to FHV be able to find you?
A: Come and find me at the EU Pavilion (Booth BJ5-01) where I’ll be hosting five cooking shows and we’ll have permanent tasting stations featuring EU food and drink products across five categories of meat and meat products; dairy; olive oil, fruits and vegetables; confectionary & chocolate; and wines, beers & spirits.
Thank you, Chef Hungazit! We hope readers are looking forward to discovering everything on offer at the EU Pavilion. Follow European Union in Vietnam | Facebook for all the latest on the EU’s presence at FHV 2022 to get to know what makes European and Vietnamese ingredients The Perfect Match!