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1st-Runner-Up - Miss Vietnam 2010, Hoang My:

“Trying on good food is the best thing when being a Culinary Ambassador”

Thursday, 02/09/2017 10:45
1st-Runner-Up – Miss Vietnam 2010 Hoang My, Culinary Ambassador cum Guest Judge of the Golden Spoon Contest share fascinating experience about her Vietnamese food & spice exploration journey.

Hoang My is making “banh tet” – traditional rice cake in a Vietnamese food exploration journey. Picture by Robert Hoàng.

It’s been more than a year since Hoang My first moved to Israel for researching and making an independent documentary about Israelis. When having a chance to come back to Vietnam, Hoang My spends most of her time in the forest, by the ocean, through the river to explore the best cooking ingredients and spices of Vietnam.

Hello Hoang My, the Golden Spoon contest with the theme “A taste of home – A Vietnamese flavor journey” season 4 has just ended, audience wonder why you decided to participate in a culinary reality show?

The Golden Spoon in my opinion is quite academic in nature. The judges are local and international artisan, culinary expert, or professional chef. Hence, my participation acts like a “spice” of showbiz, making the contest somewhat closer to audience, balancing the academy and entertainment sides.

However, it is only a minor factor. In a about a year now, Hoang My is recognized as a dynamic, dusty filmmaker travelling all over the world. Those qualities quite fit The Golden Spoon’s spirit as finding, exploring the unique species of Vietnam from all around this S-shaped land. Thus, Hoang My is the best choice. She is always full of energy, ready to hit the road and into exploring and studying.

During a journey of exploring and discovering spices and dishes in Tay Bac with The Golden Spoon 2016. Picture by Robert Hoang

When a beautiful woman go filmmaking, people always assume that she plays the leading role. Is that true?

Actually not, at this moment, I am making a independent documentary in Israel about Jewish intelligent decode. This is my own project where I am the producer cum director. I have been living in Israel for 9 months to research and explore local culture. I have received a Bachelor of Arts degree in film production at New York Academy. Therefore, I always want to follow the path of documentary production. Besides, I am only working as the ambassador of The Golden Spoon and on two fashion brands.

Filmmaking and Vietnamese spice exploring, which one you think is tougher?

They may tire your body but widen your mind and intellect. In order to explore Vietnamese culinary, I have to follow The Golden Spoon chefs to cross the river, go up hill down dale that really consist with my travelling hobby. I have traveled across Vietnam with “Master Chef” Yan Can Cook to discover signature dishes, people and sceneries.

In the Golden Spoon contest, I have to have a depth insight, go into the woods, up the mountains in order to study the signature spices of each region. This journey makes me appreciate the spices between my hands. Spices are cheap but they will become much more valuable if you have to work hard for them.

There was a time when I had no break between trips including 4 days in the North West region and 2 days in Mekong delta. We had to keep moving from dawn to midnight. The most enjoyable yet the “riskiest” activity is that I am always the first one to taste the food (laughing)

Hoang My looks beautiful when cheering the chefs at a semi-final contest. Picture: TGSA

During your adventure with the Golden Spoon, which food and spice impress you the most?

In the North West region, I prefer the Muong Sapa pork BBQ with fresh amomum tsaoko. Normally, locals use the dried instead of the fresh amomum tsaoko. And anything fresh always tastes better. Fresh amomum tsaoko is cut into slices, rolled with lemongrass, chilly, salt, etc. marinated pork, and barbequed with a delicious smell. I enjoyed this amazing dish in a mountain cold weather, with a magnificent forest view, next to a warm fireplace. Besides, local people even use zanthoxylum rhetsa as a BBQ spice and soup.

In the South West region, while travelling on the river, my team and I have discovered many dishes. Because of the Golden Spoon, I have a chance to try “trai chuc” – a relative of lime but have a rough and thick skin and strong smell. I might have had this special ingredient in Tom Yum. Besides, I also had a chance to try Henicorhynchus-paste noodle soup, which has several other ingredients such as eel, fish, snail, mussel, pork, and beef. This dish is served with vegies including sesbania sesban, ormocarpum cochinchinense, and banana flower. I also visited Nhi Can Tho restaurant to relish the roasted duck served with handmade “banh tam” (cassava cake).

Studied in the States, and now living in Israel, after visiting so many places on the world, in your opinion, how Vietnamese culinary can increase its awareness?

It importantly depends on the audience that each program wants to target. Regarding the Golden Spoon, the contestants only prepared the dishes for luxury hotels and restaurants. The dishes have to be hygiene with verified origin ingredients. However, there is another customer segment, which accounts for a huge percentage of consumers on the world. The segment I am talking about is backpackers who always write culinary reviews on tripadvisor, facebook, websites and personal blogs. It will be a good PR strategy to focus on the backpacker segment that will introduce Vietnamese culinary to the world. We need to have clean and hygiene restaurants while preserve the rustic, tradition of Vietnam.

Hoang My (3rd on the left) in the position of guest judge is evaluating the party table decoration challenge at the Golden Spoon contest final 2016. Picture by T.Dzung.

Another issue that I want to mention despite of its controversial nature is the cruel act of eating birds, cats, dogs and any other close-to-human animals. I have tried those types of meat before and talked to never repeat again. For instance, it sounds horrible to hear that we have to cut deer antler to make food.

In some areas, birds can be prepared into signature dishes. At a high level of consumption, some types of bird gradually disappear. There were no long chirping sound on the tree when I visited Da Lat. It is time we stop this horrible eating habit. It is time to give up a little of our tradition. I truly don’t understand how some people fighting to have the right to eat dog meat while the whole world is switching to eat more vegetarian food, vegetables and reduce an amount of meat in each meal.

Our tourism industry cannot be developed when there are still visitors who are afraid of our culinary.

Thank you Hoang My for an interesting discussion.

Executed by Pham Vi/ Nguoi Do Thi

Translator: Thu Pham

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