5 Questions with Chef Tu David Phu
Top Chef Alumni, TU DAVID PHU, is a Vietnamese-American and SF Chronicle Rising Star Chef from Oakland. His extensive resume has allowed him to work with a wide range of interesting companies; some of his features include (but are not limited to) Chef Ambassador for Whole Food Market and Food TV HOST. As Chef Phu sees it, the path to cooking his unique brand of Vietnamese-California cuisine has as much to do with his birthright as his birthplace. Phu is an Oakland, CA-born first generation Vietnamese-American chef whose family hails from the island of Phu Quoc, accredited as the birthplace of fish sauce in Asia. Chef Tu’s family has been producing small-batch artisanal Phu Quoc Fish Sauce, considered Champagne of fish sauces, since 1895.
BFiO: Whose food in Oakland do you enjoy as much as your own?
CHEF TU: I always enjoy my peers food more than my own. They are often the inspiration my food ideas. This list includes Reem’s Bakery, Nyum Bai, Horn BBQ, alaMar Bar & Kitchen, Tay Ho, Cosecha, The Lumpia Company, Hawking Bird. That is, however, if it’s not my momma’s cooking. Momma is queen and matriarch of the kitchen. She taught me and nourished me with food.
BFiO: What food do you think is overrated?
CHEF TU: Chic-Fil-A. I don’t have a palette for anti-gay organizations. Or any other organizations that are embrace hate onto any group of people. Yup. I said it and I’m not sorry. Zero Tolerance.
BFiO: What’s missing in the Oakland food scene?
CHEF TU: Fair wages and accessible housing for its industry workers, which are primarily a community of color. It’s seldom to find food industry workers that work and live in Oakland.
BFiO: At what local markets do you shop for ingredients/food?
CHEF TU: In Oakland, I try to catch the Old Oakland Farmers Market on Fridays and Berkeley Bowl is a chef’s haven. I live in San Leandro now, but growing up, I frequently shopped at the Asian markets in the Little Saigon neighborhood in East Oakland.
BFiO: What does The New Normal look like for Oakland restaurants & food businesses in the age of COVID-19?
CHEF TU: Digital orders, Take out and Deliveries.
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