How did your cooking journey begin?

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.

Her Recipes

Chocolate Halva Tahini Wreath Bread 

Pomegranate Molasses Roasted Duck 

Ricotta Gnudi with Fava, Peas, and Asparagus

Vietnamese Tamarind Crabs 

What Are Your Top 3 Calphalon Kitchen Tools?

Contemporary™ SharpIN™ Nonstick Chef's Knife

Contemporary™ Paring Knife

Premier™ Hard-Anodized Nonstick 12-Inch Fry Pan

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.