When Luke Nguyen’s parents fled Vietnam in the 1970s as part of the desperate exodus of ‘boat people’, they could never have imagined their soon-to-be-born son would grow up to be a famous chef.
Today, Luke is acclaimed as a leading proponent of Indochinese cuisine, has his own TV series in Australia, writes award-winning cookbooks – and in 2011 he became an ambassador for river cruise company APT.
“From the outset, APT was clear that it wanted a partner that would do more than just add their name to a cruise,” he says.
“Through my partnership with APT I am able to share the cuisine, culture and way of life of my homeland with visitors. I’m also able to help travellers to see more of the destination, to experience more of the culture and sample a true taste of Asia.”
APT guests on a river cruise in Vietnam and Cambodia can sample his cuisine and even meet the man himself on a special departure on 9 August 2018. Guests will spend two days with Luke in Ho Chi Minh City.
He will take them on a walking tour to visit open homes and watch locals cooking street food. They will also visit the area where Luke’s parents were raised, dine on a degustation dinner with matching wines at Xu Restaurant, for which Luke designed the menu, and learn how to prepare some of his favourite Vietnamese dishes during a class at his cooking school, GRAIN.
Luke will also join guests aboard the RV AmaLotus for three nights. He will prepare a special welcome dinner with matching wines and host a ‘get to know Luke Nguyen’ session.
During the cruise along the Mekong River, guests will have a taste of local life in Vietnam and Cambodia but may also dine in the ship’s Indochine restaurant, which includes a Vietnamese share-style dinner with matching wines created by Luke.
“Food is a really important expression of the Vietnamese culture,” he says. “It tells a story, a story of the land and of the history of the Vietnamese people.
“In Vietnam we serve up Chinese, French and Thai influences, so what you taste is a unique balance on the palate alongside lots of colour and tradition.
“I learn all of these traditional dishes, recreate them and add my own accent,” he adds. “My food is all about opening the door to Vietnamese life. That is where the inspiration for my dishes comes from: the culture, history, regions and family recipes.”
So what is he preparing for the welcome dinner on the RV AmaLotus? “It’s a special menu that includes some of my personal favourites. Four courses are served, with dishes ranging from tiger prawns served in green rice cakes to pork ribs, slow-braised in young coconut juice. I hope guests agree that it’s a really special way to start their APT cruise.”
Special dishes created by this talented chef will add magic to this fully inclusive Luxury Vietnam and Cambodia cruise along the Mekong River.
Luke shares APT’s ethos that a memorable experience is created when travellers become immersed in cultures unlike their own. Through his work with APT in Indochina, he gives guests a culinary insight into the local people and their lifestyles.