chef mai pham
culinary director

Mai Pham is an expert on Southeast Asian food, and an author, chef, and cultural ambassador. As our Culinary Director, she’s also the inspiration behind Lemon Grass Kitchen’s dishes.

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CULINARY DIRECTOR

Chef Mai Pham

AS SEEN ON

When Mai Pham’s family fled Saigon in 1975 for America, little did she know she’d someday become a well-known chef. Although she studied journalism, worked as the first Vietnamese-born television journalist in the US, and worked as a speech writer for a California governor, it was in cooking that she found her true calling.

It was fate that led her to open her first restaurant, Lemon Grass. Armed with family recipes, Chef Pham worked long hours, doing much of the cooking herself. What was most gratifying, as it later turned out, was the fact that her cooking and sharing of food and culture provided much needed solace during those early years.

Luckily, after a challenging start-up, Lemon Grass became one of the top restaurants in Sacramento, California, and its reputation soon spread nationwide. Chef Pham began offering cooking classes, which reignited her passion for teaching and writing. She wrote a food column at the San Francisco Chronicle for 10 years, and also contributed to the Los Angeles Times. Her articles exploring Southeast Asian culture and recipes earned her a Berte Greene Award for Excellence in Food Journalism.

She also taught at The Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, and authored several award-winning cookbooks — The Best of Vietnamese & Thai Cooking, Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table and Flavors of Asia.

Chef Pham was featured in a twelve-page spread in Martha Stewart Living magazine and hosted a series called Vietnam: My Country, My Kitchen on Food Network, sharing poignant stories of her reunion with her grandmother — not having seen her for 25 years — in the Mekong Delta.

APPEARANCES AND RECOGNITION

BOOKS BY MAI PHAM