Head Chef Sam Tran is the leading female chef on the fine dining map of Vietnam, she trained in Australia for over ten years before returning to Vietnam to open a modern Vietnamese restaurant and often joined in four-hand dinners with Vietnam’s finest chefs. What is special about Sam Tran? When asked, she admits that she is completely self-taught.
Where does Head Chef Sam Tran’s love for cooking come from?
Head Chef Sam Tran has never studied any formal cooking program. She studied information technology in Vietnam and then moved to Australia to pursue a master’s degree.
Head Chef of Gia Restaurant – Chef Sam Tran
“I’ve never thought about whether I have a passion for cooking or not. I’ve liked eating since I was young, so I like to cook. When I first came to Australia, I worked in the kitchen naturally, without thinking too much about whether I would pursue this career or not. I just kept working, until someone asked me about my passion.” – Head Chef Sam Tran said
Working part-time like many other international students to make ends meet, a job at an unpopular cafe in Australia helped her a lot on her first journey as a chef. Her first head chef always encouraged her to cook Vietnamese food for the staff meal and was willing to experiment with Vietnamese cuisine. That was one of the first motivations for her to decide to pursue a professional Vietnamese cuisine journey in the future. Also, Sam Tran’s first head chef was a very meticulous and demanding person and he was the person who created a professional work habit for her from the first day until now.
After gaining a lot of experience and cooking standards at the first job, then, Chef Sam Tran moved to Sunda Dining, 2 hatted restaurant in Melbourne (Top 50 in World’s 50 best discovery list) to continue her path on the culinary career. After several years working at Sunda Dining, Chef Sam decided to come home to embark on a restaurant of her own.
Gia – where the hearts belong
Returning to Vietnam after working and creating in many kitchens around the world, Head Chef Sam Tran hoped to bring a high-end and modern flavor experience, with full respect for the essence of Vietnamese culture and cuisine at her own restaurant, Gia Restaurant.
Many people believe that Vietnamese cuisine is unsuitable for fine dining because the street food is so diverse and unusual that it overshadows other types of cuisine. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do it. To Head Chef Sam Tran, experiencing high-end and modern flavors means carrying a lot of stories inside.
“Through each dish at Gia, I want to tell the story of Vietnamese culture. I want to tell the story of each piece of my life, the regions I have visited, the flavors passed down from generation to generation that I have tasted. These are stories worth discovering, preserving, and sharing. Some of them have even been forgotten, such as Don leaves in the Northwest region, or Giang leaves of Thai people’s culinary culture.” – Chef Sam Tran told us
Thailand is also a country with diverse street food, but they also have many fine dining restaurants that have achieved Michelin stars. So why can’t we try this in Vietnam?
Culture is never just nostalgia. Chef Sam Tran thinks looking at traditional dishes as something to “preserve” is not suitable for her dishes. Gia respects, understands, and develops from that foundation. Head Chef Sam Tran and Gia Team want to evoke in customers new emotions about ingredients that are already familiar while telling stories about traditional Vietnamese culture, about a cuisine that connects the past, present, and future. The variations in ingredient processing, creative approaches, and new experiments with food will be the elements that make the culinary story always interesting and contemporary.
To put it into words, we aspire to create those values, values that we ourselves have not yet found in Vietnam. To be honest, at that time, we felt very eager and determined to do it. Perhaps this desire had been brewing in our hearts for long enough that it had to be realized. That is not an easy task, but we are extremely excited about it.
Diners coming to Gia restaurant will go on a culinary journey with a seasonal menu that will be changed every three months. We use seasonal local ingredients and spices as the foundation. Diners will be served more than 10 dishes with different stories implied by our chefs. By using modern cooking techniques as a fresh approach to Vietnamese cuisine, Gia welcomes diners to a delightful and creative culinary journey. We hope you will be thrilled not only because of the taste but also the thoughts and stories that our chefs want to tell.