Have You Eaten Yet?

Chef Thuy Pham, Mama Dút & Portland's Food Scene

December 01, 2020 Kassata Bollman Episode 7
Have You Eaten Yet?
Chef Thuy Pham, Mama Dút & Portland's Food Scene
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Chef Thuy Pham joins us from Portland Oregon.
Her story is an uplifting one that shows a silver lining In the middle of this pandemic.

- At the start of 2020 Pham was a hairstylist.
When COVID hit she wasn’t able to work but she followed her other passion of cooking Vietnamese vegan food.

- From selling slabs of vegan pork belly to make ends meet to opening a restaurant…she’s had quite a journey…all in less than a year.
- https://www.mamadutfoods.com/

- We discuss the many collaborations on Chef Pham’s menu & their importance during COVID for the survival of Portland’s food scene.

- Then we dive into social justice. So often as restaurant owners many of us feel that we can’t totally show who we are & what we stand for. Often there’s an overwhelming awareness about the bottom-line but we could all learn from Chef Pham. She’s outspoken about The Black Lives Matter Movement, ending food injustice and food apartheid. We discuss the importance of social justice & why she uses her platform for greater good.
- https://www.instagram.com/mama.dut.foods/?hl=en

[[MUSIC]]


WELCOME! 

I’M KASSATA BOLLMAN. 

TODAY MY GUEST IS CHEF THUY PHAM. 

SHE JOINS US FROM PORTLAND OREGON. 

CHEF PHAM’S STORY IS AN UPLIFTING ONE….THAT SHOWS A SILVER LINING IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS PANDEMIC.


CHEF PHAM I ALWAYS START BY ASKING….….  “HAVE YOU EATEN YET?” AND IF YOU HAVE….WHAT DID YOU EAT TODAY?.....WE’LL GET TO THAT IN A SECOND…..BECAUSE I WANT TO TELL A QUICK SIDE STORY…...WHEN I CONTACTED YOU INITIALLY… YOU SAID “HAVE YOU EATEN YET…. TOTALLY REMINDS ME OF MY MOM”.............SO I THINK IT’S A GREAT TIME FOR ME TO REMIND OUR LISTENERS…. THAT THE TITLE OF THIS PODCAST IS A COMMON PHRASE…. USED IN ASIAN CULTURE…..IT’S A GREETING - HELLO, HOW ARE YOU?....IT’S ALSO LIKE SAYING “HOW CAN I NOURISH YOU? AND THAT’S WHAT I’M TRYING TO DO ON THIS SHOW…... USING TOPICS AS MY NOURISHMENT.


CHEF PHAM SINCE YOU GREW UP USING & HEARING THIS PHRASE I’D LOVE FOR YOU TO TOUCH ON IT’S MEANING TO YOU….. & IF YOU THINK THERE’S ANY ADDITIONAL KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE PHRASE.... THAT WE SHOULD ALL KNOW ABOUT…….. …..AND OF COURSE WE’D LOVE TO HEAR IF YOU’VE EATEN TODAY...AND IF SO, WHAT YOU ATE…. 


[[CHEF THUY PHAM]]


















DEEPER MEANING:


NOW WE’RE GONNA TIME TRAVEL BACK TO MARCH 2020...IN ORDER TO TELL YOUR STORY CHEF PHAM.

OK, SO IT’S MARCH…..COVID HITS. AT THIS POINT YOU’RE  A HAIRSTYLIST & ALL OF THE SUDDEN YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO WORK.

YOU COULD LOOK AT THE DOWNSIDE ...BUT YOU CHOOSE TO SEE THE POSITIVE.

YOU SEE OPPORTUNITY. 

YOU SAY “I HAVE THIS OTHER PASSION: COOKING VIETNAMESE VEGAN FOOD.” 

AN IDEA FORMS: I’M GOING TO START SELLING SLABS OF VEGAN PORK BELLY TO MAKE ENDS MEET.


IT’S A TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE BUDDHIST RECIPE THAT YOU FOLLOW. 

YOU LEARNED FROM WATCHING BUDDHIST MONKS MAKE IT AT TEMPLE. 

TO REVIVE YOUR MEMORY YOU START WATCHING YOUTUBE COOKING VIDEOS.

YOU GET YOUR RECIPE DOWN & MAMA DUT IS BORN.


LET’S BREAK DOWN THE NAME MAMA DÚT….. 

IT’S INSPIRED BY YOUR DAUGHTER….IN VIETNAMESE DUT MEANS TO FEED….WHEN YOUR DAUGHTER WAS YOUNGER ….WHENEVER SHE WAS HUNGRY SHE WOULD SAY “MAMA DUT” - MAMA FEED.

YOU REGISTERED THIS BUSINESS NAME WITH THE STATE YEARS AGO, JUST TO SAVE IT.

WE’LL GET BACK TO THAT IN A SECOND.


FIRST WEEK YOU ANNOUNCE THE VEGAN BELLY PRODUCT ON INSTAGRAM. 

AT THIS POINT YOUR FOLLOWERS ARE PRETTY MUCH YOUR HAIR CLIENTELE….BUT WORD SPREADS BEYOND THEM & YOU GET MORE THAN A HUNDRED ORDERS. 

FROM THERE YOU START A POP UP SERVING VIETNAMESE DISHES THAT HIGHLIGHT YOUR VEGAN BELLY PRODUCT. 

AND FROM THERE YOU OPEN A RESTAURANT….ALL OF THIS WITHIN ONE YEAR.


FULL CIRCLE MOMENT DOESN'T FULLY DO YOUR STORY JUSTICE. 

GROWING UP YOU WERE A VIETNAMESE REFUGEE HERE IN THE 80’S….. YOU NEVER FELT TRULY COMFORTABLE CELEBRATING YOUR FOOD HERITAGE….NOW YOU’RE A CHEF LEADING A KITCHEN AT A RESTAURANT THAT YOU OWN….. YOUR RESTAURANT & ENTIRE BRAND CELEBRATES YOUR FOOD CULTURE….AND 

YOUR DAUGHTER IS WATCHING ALL THIS UNFOLD.


I BELIEVE IN SETTING INTENTIONS….& THE IMPORTANCE OF PUTTING ENERGY OUT THERE…...YOU REGISTERED THIS BUSINESS NAME YEARS AGO...SOMETHING IN YOU KNEW TO DO THAT……...TO ME, YOU’RE SUCH A RAD REBEL... BY STARTING THIS BUSINESS….. AS MANY RESTAURANTS ARE CLOSING DURING THIS PANDEMIC…..AND I SAY THAT AS WOMAN WHO OWNS AND RUNS A RESTAURANT DAILY LIKE YOU…….

THIS IS A TWO PART QUESTION:


DO YOU SEE THIS ALL UNFOLDING & ALIGNING IN A PRETTY AMAZING WAY OR DO YOU THINK IT’S JUST LUCK...BEING IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME?


AND …..LOOKING BACK AT YOUNG THUY PHAM…. BACK IN THE 80’S….THE GIRL THAT WASN’T SO COMFORTABLE EMBRACING HER FOOD HERITAGE….WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO HER NOW?



[[CHEF THUY PHAM]]



PORTLAND: IS IT A CITY OF COLLABORATIONS? 


WHEN I RESEARCHED MAMA DÚT ONE THING THAT STOOD OUT TO ME WAS THE COLLABORATIONS THAT YOU HIGHLIGHT ON YOUR MENU.

THE COFFEE YOU SERVE COMES FROM YOUR FRIEND’S SINGLE-ORIGIN COFFEE COMPANY….A COMPANY THAT WAS ALSO STARTED DURING THE PANDEMIC.

YOU OFFER A VIETNAMESE COFFEE CHEESECAKE…. THIS COLLABORATION LINKS YOU TO A LOCAL CHEESECAKE COMPANY...BUT IN THAT CAKE….. THEY ALSO USE YOUR FRIEND’S COFFEE BEANS. 

ALSO ON THE MENU ARE KULFI POPSICLES FROM A LOCAL INDIAN POPSICLE COMPANY. 

THERE’S A MANGO SOUR MAMA DÚT BEER IN COLLABORATION WITH A LOCAL BREWERY.

PLUS LOCAL WINE FROM WOMEN AND BLACK-OWNED WINERIES. 


I’M GONNA HIT YOU WITH ANOTHER TWO-PART QUESTION HERE:


IS THIS JUST WHO YOU ARE & PART OF YOUR VISION OR DURING COVID WITH ALL THE CLOSURES….. ARE COLLABORATIONS IMPORTANT NOW MORE THAN EVER…. FOR THE SURVIVAL OF PORTLAND’S FOODSCAPE?


AND…...GENERALLY SPEAKING, WOULD YOU CONSIDER PORTLAND A CITY OF COLLABORATIONS WHEN IT COMES TO RESTAURANTS? I’VE HEARD OTHERS TALK ABOUT HOW PORTLAND IS OVERSATURATED WITH RESTAURANTS...IS THERE A RESTAURANT BUBBLE...AND IF SO, IS IT ABOUT TO POP?



[[CHEF THUY PHAM]]








SOCIAL JUSTICE:


SO OFTEN AS RESTAURANT OWNERS MANY….NOT ALL….BUT MANY…. FEEL THAT WE CAN’T TOTALLY SHOW WHO WE ARE & WHAT WE STAND FOR….THERE’S ALWAYS AN AWARENESS ABOUT THE BOTTOM-LINE….I’LL GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE….MY RESTAURANT IS IN NY….ON LONG ISLAND….A BREWERY HERE...IN MONTAUK…HAD A BLACK LIVES MATTER SIGN OUTSIDE FOR ONE DAY….. & POSTED IT ON INSTAGRAM….FROM THERE ONE POLICE OFFICER...NOT EVEN A LOCAL ONE….STARTED A FACEBOOK GROUP & AN ONLINE PETITION….. TO BOYCOTT THEM…..TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WERE IN THIS GROUP & STARTED TROLLING THEIR INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT…..THEY ENDED UP ISSUING A STATEMENT & BASICALLY APOLOGIZING FOR PUTTING A BLACK LIVES MATTER SIGN UP AT THEIR BREWERY….. BECAUSE OF ALL THE BACKLASH……..


AGAIN….THIS IS A RECURRING THEME IN THIS INTERVIEW….TO ME, YOU’RE A RAD REBEL…..YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHAT YOU STAND FOR…..BACKLASH OR NOT…..MAMA DÚT SUPPORTS THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT…..SUPPORTS ENDING FOOD INJUSTICE AND FOOD APARTHEID……I EVEN NOTICED & APPRECIATED…. THAT ON YOUR INSTAGRAM PAGE FOR YOUR LOCATION, IT SAYS UNCEDED CHINOOK LAND….

YOU’RE SHOWING RESPECT FOR THE CHINOOK TRIBE & RECOGNIZE THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO THE LAND...AKA THE PORTLAND AREA.


AS A WOMAN OF COLOR I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR BEING TRANSPARENT & FEARLESS ABOUT WHAT YOU STAND FOR.


HAS THIS ALWAYS BEEN WHO YOU ARE? AND IF SO, WHY IS SOCIAL JUSTICE IMPORTANT TO YOU?




[[CHEF THUY PHAM]]









CHEF PHAM & PORTLAND:


CHEF PHAM, WHAT’S THE ONE THING THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WHEN IT COMES TO THE FOOD SCENE IN PORTLAND RIGHT NOW? 


AND ALSO ONE THING THAT YOU ARE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH IN THAT SCENE...


[[CHEF PHAM DISCUSSES]]


TAKEAWAY:


CHEF PHAM, THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY WITH US …....


I LIKE ENDING…. BY ASKING IF THERE’S ANY TAKEAWAY THAT YOU’D LIKE TO LEAVE WITH LISTENERS…... THAT CAN POSITIVELY INFLUENCE THEIR LIVES….. 

IT COULD BE SOMETHING THAT WE JUST DISCUSSED, A PRO TIP…. OR GENERAL LIFE ADVICE THAT YOU LIVE BY ….……..


[[CHEF PHAM DISCUSSES]]


…...CHEF PHAM WHERE CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU ?


[[CHEF PHAM DISCUSSES]]


THANKS FOR LISTENING….AND IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY….... SUBSCRIBE TO “HAVE YOU EATEN YET?” ….WHEREVER YOU GET YOUR PODCASTS….



[[MUSIC]]


Chef Pham's Story
PORTLAND: A CITY OF COLLABORATIONS?
SOCIAL JUSTICE
CHEF PHAM & PORTLAND
TAKEAWAY