One could say that Phu’s rise began (as the son of Vietnamese immigrants) when he worked at some the finest dining establishments in America- Acquerello, Daniel and Chez Paniise, for instance.
But on returning home to Oakland and cooking again in his family home, Phu realized that his mother was an equal inspiration as well as a repository of valuable information, especially when it comes to not wasting food. During the Vietnam War, when supplies were rationed, she learned out of necessity that corn silk could be dried and used as tea or toasted, deep-fried, or sautéed to serve with rice.
“That was a huge turning point for me,” said Phu. “As opposed to looking outward to learn more about food, that’s when I realized I had already learned a lot from my mom.”
-Chef Tu David Phu