“I come from a very large Vietnamese family full of cooks.”

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Toe’s garlic noodles were a hit at Thanksgiving

Get to know Tony in this Q&A and get his “Vietnamese shrimp garlic noodles” SUNDAY (7/14) from 6-8PM!

Q: What’s your cooking background?

Toe: I come from a very large Vietnamese family full of cooks. My family ventured into the restaurant and food truck industry. Everyone in my family has their own special go to dish. Growing up all I ate was Vietnamese food at home, but all I really wanted was American food. I remember always looking forward to cafeteria food at school because it was anything but Vietnamese food. My favorite day of the week was Fridays because that’s when my mom would take us to McDonald’s or Little Caesars.

Toe’s chicken wings! 😋

When I moved away to Chicago, I found myself missing the Vietnamese food my family made. For me, food is nostalgic. Being able to reproduce a dish I ate growing up brought back happy memories. I would often call my mom to tell her about a dish I made and it was my way to bond with her and my grandma. Just hearing how proud they are of my cooking inspires me to continually learn about other Vietnamese comfort dishes

My best friend also started a food blog and he really influenced me to get creative with my dishes and take pride in it. It just took a life of its own from there. I am now feeding people at parties, inviting my in laws over for dinner, and just having lots of fun with it.

Tony’s shrimp summer rolls!

Q: What can you tell us about the dish you’re making and what inspired it?

Toe: I went home to California in 2015 and the food scene there is booming. A lot of food trends start from there and takes off. I remember eating a simple garlic noodle dish at a popular Craw Fish restaurant called Boiling Crab and wanted to replicate it.

Q: What’s your favorite food memory?

Toe: My grandma always asking me what I want her to cook whenever I return home to California. One time I Facetimed her and showed her my Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Crepe), a dish she always made me growing up. That made her so happy.

Q: Who do you think about when you make this dish? What does it remind you of?

Toe: I think of my Aunt Moi Hai, who is hands down the best cook in the family. One year, the kids took care of Thanksgiving dinner and all the cousins and I each made a dish. I submitted my garlic noodle and it was a hit! Everyone loved it, especially my Aunt who mentioned my version was better than those she’s had at restaurants. I was so proud of myself!

Follow Toe to see what he makes next and get his “Vietnamese shrimp garlic noodles” SUNDAY (7/14) from 6-8PM!

By Shmeal

The Shmeal Team. 🐖💻
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