Culinary Artisan Anh Tuyet Brings Viet Cuisine to the world

Culinary Artisan Anh Tuyet Brings Viet Cuisine to the world

MasterChef and, living encyclopedia of the culinary arts, Ha Thanh’s best chef, are all appellations belonging to Chef Nguyen Thi Anh Tuyet, who is believed to be the person who can preserve the quintessence of Vietnamese cuisine. For this MasterChef, each dish contains its own story and message of Vietnamese culture, traditions and people.

MasterChef and, living encyclopedia of the culinary arts, Ha Thanh’s best chef, are all appellations belonging to Chef Nguyen Thi Anh Tuyet. Photo: Viet Cuong

Anh Tuyet’s grandmother was her first teacher and also the one who had the greatest influence on Anh Tuyet's choice of a culinary path. Her grandmother taught her the finesse, perfectionism and attentiveness that was indispensable in traditional Vietnamese cooking. Also how the sophistication of Vietnamese women was reflected in their small kitchens.“Once, when I was making chicken and mushroom stew, I fried the chicken right after seasoning it. That earned me a cuff on the head from my grandmother, who noticed what I was doing just from hearing the oil boiling stronger than needed. The crime was for not allowing enough time for the spices to soak properly into the meat,” said Anh Tuyet, recalling her first cooking lesson. As the 7th generation in a high-profile Hanoi family, from a young age, Anh Tuyet was educated to become a lady. At the age of 9, she started to follow her grandmother to the market to learn how to choose the best ingredients and to the kitchen to learn how to cook traditional Hanoi dishes. Her culinary career was began in those childhood days.

While learning cooking from her grandmother, little Anh Tuyet also was given the philosophies of a chef. “Grandmother told me that food must be enjoyed first with the eyes, followed by the aroma, then the taste and finally the feel of it melting in your mouth. Food must be enjoyed with all the senses and the attentiveness in choosing ingredients and spices is the golden key to the success of a chef”, recalled Anh Tuyet of her grandmother’s teachings.



According to Anh Tuyet, the ingredients are not merely meat, fish or vegetables, a recipe represents the cook's knowledge, sometimes even acting as a “messenger” to deliver what the chef wants to say. That means a real chef must know how to choose ingredients, and know which dishes are good or bad for one’s health. It’s also necessary to have social and cultural knowledge to create dishes that can represent the quintessence of traditional Vietnamese cuisine and promote it to friends around the world. When tasked with preparing a banquet for 21 heads of state at the 2017 APEC Summit, Chef Anh Tuyet studied the culture of each country for 6 months to understand the preference of each leader. Hundreds of delicious dishes were discussed and filtered down to the 12 most suitable. From there, Chef Anh Tuyet picked out 6 dishes that bore the strongest Vietnamese traditional identity. These included banana flower salad, five-flavor steamed sea bass, crab spring rolls, fresh spring rolls, crispy roasted duck and a purple sweet potato dessert.

Through those selected dishes, Chef Anh Tuyet wanted to introduce foreign guests to Vietnam’s cuisine and also to Vietnam as a nation - a tropical country with a rich agricultural background. In order to do that, she treated the heads of state to simple but quintessential Vietnamese dishes. Among them was the five-flavor steamed sea bass, a dish that made a strong impression on the leaders at APEC 2017. It was the dish Anh Tuyet had learned and practiced in her family's small kitchen on Tran Hung Dao Street.

Since then, Hanoi dishes created by Chef Anh Tuyet have been made in many restaurants in major cities around the world. The image of MasterChef Anh Tuyet and Hanoi's specialties have also become familiar to foreigners through popular channels such as the Discovery Channel, BBC, SRG, or television channels in the US Germany, France, Japan and South Korea. Despite her fame, for Anh Tuyet the joy of being a chef remained simple, seeing people enjoy her dishes.

For Anh Tuyet, cooking is an art, and the cuisine of a country can bring out its soul. The cooks can promote their national culture and preserve a national culinary quintessence. At the heart of bustling Hanoi, where the cuisine over time has had many new colorful layers brought by cultural integration, Anh Tuyet Restaurant, number 25 Ma May Street, Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, is the only place food lovers can find traditional meals up to old Hanoi standards, a "preserver" of Hanoi cuisine.

“My family passed all their cooking secrets to the next generation, and I am doing the same for my children and grandchildren. Take soy sauce for example, in my family you have to use Black Cat soy sauce. There was a time when my 5-year-old granddaughter was sorry for using the wrong seasoning when she tried fried an egg dipped in another brand of soy sauce,” said Anh Tuyet.


In the family of Anh Tuyet, there seems to exist a silent mission of preserving the culinary importance of Ha Thanh. Food doesn’t speak  but it is heavy with implication as each dish is a boat carrying the cultural and traditional beauties of a country and its people. It is no surprise  that at the age of over 70, Anh Tuyet continues being passionate about her mission.


Artisan Anh Tuyet is a popular face on TV culinary channels. Photo: Anh Tuyet’s Files

Story : Thao Vy/VNP Photos: Viet Cuong Translated by Hong Hanh