Most of my childhood was spent in California following my mother around to her part-time cooking gigs at mom-and-pop restaurants and noodle shops. Many nights, I found myself begrudgingly peeling potatoes and shucking oysters. I didn’t know it at the time, but these nights would serve as the sparks in finding my passion.
All throughout my life, I always felt like something was missing. Even after business school when I had an ideal job managing a business, I felt like there was something that I needed to do. So, I left my job and went to Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena.
From there, I went to Italy to work in a Michelin-star restaurant. But, I realized that I still hadn’t truly figured out who I really was. I wanted to go back to my roots, and so I left to go to Vietnam to embrace my culture and learn about the cuisine. It was in Vietnam that the initial sparks ignited into a fire and I became overwhelmed with the exotic flavors of spices and fruit in the beer and cocktails that I had never tasted anywhere else.
Even though I came back to California to pursue corporate dining at Apple, my experience in Vietnam stayed with me. And as I worked in creating several successful kitchens in Apple cafeterias, I longed for something of my own.
I wanted to take my vision of how customers should be treated, of providing a better standard of food quality, of embracing local ingredients and create a modern outlook on food and beverage.
And thus, The Bench was born. The Bench is my vision come to life. A place to escape Vietnam for only a moment, and find yourself in California. A place where you can sit down, have extraordinary drinks, good talk, and create great memories. Because food isn’t just about eating, it’s an experience.