Vy's a clinical pharmacist who moved to the U.S. from Vietnam at age 10, and fell in love with cooking while making Vietnamese dishes with her mom. She started a blog as a way to document her family’s recipes and culinary experiments, and it's still going strong 10 years later. She lives in San Diego and is a mom of 2.
I’m a clinical pharmacist by trade but my cooking journey started over two decades ago. When I left for college, I started missing my mom’s home-cooked meals. I would spend hours on the phone asking her how to make pho, spring rolls, Vietnamese crepes, braised pork and eggs, and other Vietnamese dishes. During breaks, I would come home and spend time in the kitchen with her to learn. Since then I started building my knowledge base for techniques and how to play with flavors.
Describe your culinary style.
The food I cook tends to be seasonal, easy, and comforting. As a parent, I rely on one-pan meals and simple dishes for dinner. My kids love pasta, noodles, and soups. We also grow a lot of vegetables and fruits and incorporate them into our meals. When time allows, I introduce my kids to dishes from around the world so they aren’t afraid to try new things.
Favorite recipe you’ve made with Calphalon cookware?
My favorite would be the Pomegranate Molasses Roasted Duck.
It’s a family tradition that we cook duck for Christmas dinner. The whole duck is cooked over a bed of potatoes. The result is succulent, tender duck meat, with the duck fat adding incredible richness to the potatoes.
Best cooking tip or advice you’ve ever received that you want to pass on to other home chefs?
Don’t give up if your recipes didn’t turn out the way you want. I keep a notebook of all my recipes with meticulous notes of the results and what I did differently each time. Some recipes take years to perfect—like my pavlova which took me a whole decade! I’ve learned much more from my failures than my success.
Insider kitchen tip everyone should know?
Learning how to salt your food correctly can make or break a dish. Salt comes in many forms. Think about using miso, fish sauce, anchovies, and even cheese to build saltiness and flavor in the dish you’re cooking.
What is your favorite secret ingredient that instantly elevates any meal?
Salt is my favorite secret ingredient when it comes to flavoring food. It balances and enhances the flavor of other ingredients. I use different types of salt to bring out the flavors in food—regular kosher salt for cooking, flaky sea salt to intensify the sweetness in cookies and brownies, and flavored salt as the finishing touches for proteins from steak to sashimi.