Australian-Vietnamese Chef Luke Nguyen’s passion for food leads him into France, a paradise for food lovers, where he explores the land that has shaped his native country – Vietnam. During this journey, he unearths a whole new side to French food, culture and lifestyle and learns about the art of regional French cooking from locals he meets along the way. He also interacts with the country’s top chefs and home cooks and whips up tantalizing dishes including classic recipes like melted goat’s cheese on sourdough and French-Vietnamese fusion cuisine.
Join him every weekday from 8pm to 9pm on TLC in LUKE NGUYEN’S FRANCE as he discovers France’s diverse cuisine and culture. Read on as he talks about the show and shares some interesting experiences.
In your latest show, Luke Nguyen’s France on TLC, you take viewers through your culinary adventures in France. How has the experience been so far? Can you tell us more about French cuisine, the people, traditions and culinary customs?
My show on TLC will feature everything that has to do with France and will try to give viewers a holistic experience. The show captures the rich culture, architecture, landscape, regionality and the beautiful people of the nation. Everything in the show is connected with food and I did a lot of research about the nation by actually meeting and talking to the local people myself. This eventually helped me get really deep into the country’s traditions and culinary customs.
As far as my experience is considered, I guess the most important thing that I’ve learned would have to be the varied and different styles of French cuisine. I think what most people around the world would say is that French cuisine is very difficult. I’ve learned that that’s not entirely true. French cooking can be a bit technical, but is quite simple. I’ve also learned how different French cuisine ranges from the North of France all the way down to the South of France. And it’s very, very regional and consists of flavors.
What are the ingredients that are widely used in French cuisine?
More than the ingredient it’s the techniques of cooking a French dish. The French use heavier kinds of butter – lots of butter. I learned so much about regional and French cuisine and how diverse it is. So, it’s basically the diversity of French cooking and flavors.
Tell us more about the French culinary style. How is it different from the others?
What I found most impressive about French cuisine was that throughout the country, every single person I met was a big foodie. People there have been brought up with a food culture and they appreciate food and have respect for the produce. When they cook they always use fresh produce and most premium quality.
As I mentioned earlier, more than the ingredient it’s the techniques of cooking a French dish. During my visit to France it felt like I was on this journey to learn a lot about them and the food. I want to show people how easy cooking can be. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Can you name some traditional French dishes that one must try in France?
French make the best baguettes. The French baguette is to be eaten with the food and not with the latter stuffed inside the baguette. They are on the heavier side and taste nothing like baguettes that we eat outside France.
France is known for its patisserie items, cheeses and wines. If you had to recommend one of each, which one would it be and why?
I would recommend trying everything.
Tell us more about French-Vietnamese fusion cuisine?
I wanted to immerse myself further into the culture and the cuisine. As you would know French colonized Vietnam for almost 100 years. So we can say that French cuisines have a great influence on the Vietnamese dishes and vice-versa.
I found that many dishes I grew up eating have actually been influenced a lot by the French when they were in Vietnam for almost a century. I interviewed a lot of Vietnamese who grew up during that time and are now in their 90s – some of them are 100 plus years old. I also met a lot of French who were in Vietnam during that time. I really wanted to find out what dishes and ingredients as well influenced the cuisine.
The French in the 1800’s brought over the very first coffee plant from France. And now, you find a coffee shop in every corner in Vietnam. Things like that are the ones that have influenced not just the Vietnamese cuisine but also a big part of our culture and daily lives in Vietnam. And so, my mission was to go to France and really discover how the French have influenced our dishes. Luckily, I have a lot of family in France so it was also a great way to reconnect with my French family.
Can you name an age-old French-Vietnamese fusion dish?
Well, I’ve been researching the French connection to Vietnam for many, many years. Purely, for my own learning and I will have to say that I found out lots of dishes which saw the influence on one another. However the technique and style remains distinct. You can see the influence in one of the dishes call Pho – the beautiful bowl of soup. It is said that pho was inspired by the boiled French dish, le pot au feu.
LUKE NGUYEN’S FRANCE airs Monday to Friday at 8 PM on TLC