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The winner of the Golden Spoon contest 2016:

“I will continue searching for my own spice map”

Friday, 03/03/2017 10:17
“After the contest, I will keep searching for spices throughout Vietnam to apply on my own dishes”, according to Chef Le Vo Anh Duy – the winner of the Golden Spoon contest 2016.

With more than 20 years of experience along with great effort and, untiring exertion.  Le Vo Duy Anh has become the main chef of Van Thanh resort. Nowadays, he is also the main chef of Binh Quoi 1 and Binh Quoi 3 resorts. With a passion and career development striving, Anh Duy participated in  several cooking class TV shows or cooking performance shows such as “Sang Phuong Nam”, “Kheo tay hay lam”, “So tay noi tro”, etc. Besides, he didn’t hesitate to join many professional cooking competitions especially the Golden Spoon contest.

Being expert in local cuisine, creative in preparation and meticulous in decoration plays a main role in chef Le Vo Anh Duy’s winning the Golden Spoon cup along with 1 billion VNĐ)

After the contest, the winner – chef Le Vo Anh Duy has shared with us some information:

Hi Anh Duy, what makes your Vietnamese dishes more special than others’ and how was your experience in the traditional dishes?

Each Vietnamese dish is a combination. Throughout the regions, Vietnamese dishes have the same ingredients of meat and veggies. However, the cooking technique along chosen spices creates different tastes and smells. I’d want to emphasize the fact of mixing main ingredients and spices to create a delicious plate.

Talking about spices, we have several types including scallion, parsley, perilla frutescens, dill, fermented vinegar, from vegetable spices such as garlic, lemongrass, ginger to meat spices like fish sauce and dipping sauce. The veriety and combination flexibility of different spices can create a “just right” flavor, not too spicy, not too fat, not too sweet, and not too salty. With a same ingredient, we can use differently.

In the Golden Spoon contest 2016 finale, I have picked duck meat. Normally, people will grill or make a duck congee. I decided to grill the meat and prepare a dipping sauce made from 4 different leaves including dill, scallion, mentha crispa, eryngium foetidum, and together with zanthoxylum rhetsa. The dish was not too luxurious but still impressed the judges by its harmonizing tastes.

In the North West region of Vietnam, there is a signature dish with BBQ pork with zanthoxylum rhetsa. Because of some similar features, I think instead of using pork, we can choose beef and duck with a twist in using lemongrass seeds, clausena indica leaves. Houttuynia cordata leaves, etc. to generate a unique and delightful taste.

In the past, inventing a dish required a lot of experience. Therefore, when trying a new dish, I often start with the foundation and then add my own signature taste with my collected regional spices.

With your strength in Vietnamese foods and your knowledge in diffrerent countries’ gastronomies, what do you think about fusion cuisines? In your opinion, how to internationalize a tradiditonal/local dish?

In the passed finale, Nelly Gocheva – the female journalist from The New York Times’s T Brand Studio shared her experience of how a bowl of Pho in Paris tasted dissimilarily from a bowl of Pho in Vietnam. At that moment, I thought about how we should study the culture behind the dish before preparing it.

Pho contains 5 main ingredients including the Pho noodles itself, meat, broth, mint leaves and spices. Each ingredient has to maintain its requirements. For instance, Pho noodles have to be fresh, meat has to have a good flavor, the soup has to be hot, reasonable amount of spices and mint leaves. Besides, we also need to eat Pho in a proper way.  The soup has to be higher than the noodles. Especially, a thin fat layer is required for chicken and beef Pho. In Western countries, the soup and Pho noodles have almost the same level. Therefore, the customers cannot totally enjoy every flavor of the dish.

Moreover, when mentioning Vietnam, tourists recall Pho and spring rolls as the first things in mind. However, we have many other delicious dishes including fermented tofu duck, BBQ duck with clausena indica leaves and “bun sung” from Vung Tau.

Besides, each country has its own culture and tradition. For instance, silverwears are used daily in Western families. Foods are equally shared to every member and people don’t make noise while eating. On the other hand, Vietnamese people use spoons and chopsticks. Foods are placed in common plates and bowls for family members to pick. While having delicious dishes like soup, people often make noise while eating. The fact of everyone eating together symbolizes for the union, while Western people think this eating style is unhygiene.

Thus, I’d want to introduce to the world more and more delicious Vietnamese foods. First of all, we need to adapt to the majority. That means for each dish we still keep the ingredients and spices but decorate in a Western style in order to be easily recognized and accepted.

Does the fact of winning the Golden Spoon contest 2016 give you any motivation and pressure?

After the contest, I have received more spiritual than physical values. Everyone knows that behind the glory of fame is hard work. My winning did not come naturally but a result of great effort, practice, thinking and investment on a lot of menus.

In Vietnamese, there is an idiom “It is better off for you to specialize in one task than knowing variable skills “ Luckily, my team has participated in the Golden Spoon contest for 4 seasons. Thus, we have gained a lot of experience, which helps us a lot in practice each day.

I am proud of what I have achieved in career and I need to keep trying. For me, inspiration comes from the process of learning new things in life, from people that I have known. I don’t have any other tips for success except for not only working with my heart but also my love for cooking, life and people.

1st-runner-up Vu Hoang My – Guest judge (second from the lefty) shared her happiness with the winner Le Vo Anh Duy along with his team Le Thi Vi, Nguyen Minh Tri in the Gala night.

On the Golden Spoon contest facebook, many people claim that you “bought” the prize. How do you think about this?

Being with the Golden Spoon contest for 4 years, I learned a lot of interesting experience, I have gained more than lost.  Every competition has its own rumors. That’s why we are not bothered.

The gastronomic experts would not think I “bought” the prize because the competition gathered a list of culinary professionals from Vietnam and global. This is the contest that Minh Long I has invested not only money, effort but also the company's passion and prestige.

From 1st-runner-up Hoang My, I learned that the investment for this contest was more than 60 billions. If I have more money than that amount, I would spend on something else rather than “buying” the prize.

I don't know about other competitions but the Golden Spoon is a fair contest. Been with the contest for 4 years, for many times I thought I would receive the cup butI wouldn’t. Then I thought about my mistakes, what needed to be improved in order to create exceptional dishes.

I am also proud because my winning is also recognized from chefs of other teams. We discuss frankly with each other. When having a glance at our menu and table, they said we deserved to be the winner. It was a great happiness for me.

After 4 years with the Golden Spoon contest, you have brought many new spices and flavors. What is your plan on creating your own spice map?

My dream is to write about my own foods and spices. Wining the Golden Spoon contest is a stepping-stone for me to execute it. For me, a ideal chef is a person who know how to aim, to learn to get over himself.

Certainly, after the contest, I will keep searching for spices throughtout the countries to apply on my own dishes.

Thank you. I wish you more success on your journey of discovering and conquering spices and Vietnamese cuisine!

Clip: Let’s have a look at “The journey to victory” of Le Vo Anh Duy and team over 4 seasons of the Golden Spoon contest.



* Chef Le Vu Anh Duy – personal facts

The journey to professional culinary career of Le Vo Anh Duy who used to be the sweaty man beside the roasted peanut stove.

From Dong Nai, this young man went to Saigon to study at Law University but unexpectedly change the path to become a chef. His job was to roast 30 kg of peanuts from 5am to 9pm.

With the difficult start, I gradually find myself joy in the cooking field and have become from cooking assistant to the main chef for 8 years in several wedding venue in HCMC.

Up to this day, we can say Duy is an example of “hard work pays off”

Copywriter: Phuong Nguyen/ Source:

Photos: CTV - Clip: Viet Huong

Translator: Thu Pham

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