Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam
- Block Ha My Dong B, Dien Duong Ward, Dien Ban Town, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam
Head Chef of The Nam Hai Cooking Academy
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2016
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Demi Chef at Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An
- Red Sky Bar & Restaurant, Danang, Vietnam
- Danang, Vietnam
- Vietnamese Australian Vocational College, Danang
- Vietnamese, English
Knowledgeable, humorous, patient and engaging, Chef Hien Huynh is a passionate custodian of Vietnamese cuisine who has been “making life better with flavours” since the age of 16.
Growing up in a village outside Danang as the son of a fisherman and a seafood market vendor, he was gutting and preparing fish from a young age in addition to helping his grandmother grow vegetables and make tofu. He became so adept in the kitchen that by his mid-teens he was preparing daily family meals such as sweet and sour pork belly for six.
It’s a passion that has never waned. "I live, breathe and sleep cooking; I can’t live without it,” he shares with his trademark enthusiasm. “Eighty per cent of my free time is committed to cooking and while I do a lot of online research into world cuisine and also love to cook Indian and Chinese, I’m devoted to preserving local techniques.”
In his role as Head Chef of The Nam Hai Cooking Academy, it is Chef Hien’s insight into local methods and culture that elevates his classes beyond the actual process of cooking.
“Old style is the real Vietnamese cuisine but it is more than just food, it is a social thing,” he explains. “To be a chef in a Vietnamese kitchen, it’s essential you know the story, history, culture and how to create strong flavours without rich sauces. Vietnamese cuisine has more than 30 fresh herbs used regularly in many different combinations.”
And then there’s the mastery of these delicate unions of flavour: “I call it yin and yang cuisine. It’s all about balancing, for example, spicy ginger with sweeter duck, or strong lemon or white basil in soups but milder sweet or red basil in salads.”
Chef Hien’s classes are also supplemented by a daily excursion to connect participants to the area’s culturally rich beauty, from tours of bustling markets to Tra Que Village, where visitors can experience traditional farming methods first hand. He also enjoys helping guests adapt recipes to suit their lifestyle and preferences, from sharing ways to tenderise meats to teaching the best overnight marinades.
And whether participants attend his Cooking Academy classes for a day or a week, Chef Hien has one goal for everyone: “I want my guests to return home and feel confident about preparing authentic Vietnamese food that makes people happy. For a Chef, there really is nothing better than watching your guests, family and loved ones enjoying dishes you have prepared. To me, making life better with flavours is the best thing of all.”