Sometimes, it’s funny to think chefs can become so popular for the tasty eats they put on plates, that celebrity status gets attached to them. You can count Bobby Chinn as one of those chefs.
Chinn’s path to culinary celebrity culture didn’t come in a conventional manner. Despite taking an interest in his grandmother’s Asian and North African recipes at the young at of 10, Chinn initially took a different path through life.
For years, Chinn traveled the world for years, briefly attempted stand-up comedy, and even had a gig in the finance industry at the New York Stock Exchange. Eventually, though, Chinn’s perspective changed and he decided to pursue a career in the kitchen.
“I accidentally became a chef,” commented Chinn. “But I was born as a traveler.”
In San Francisco, Chinn trained with chefs Hubert Keller, Elka Gilmore and Traci des Jardins, but due to health issues was unable to open his own California-based restaurant. By 1996, Chinn moved to Vietnam and spent two decades “learning recipes and techniques from the masters on the streets.”
Chinn’s hard work would result in the opening of two award-winning restaurants: Restaurant Bobby Chinn in Hanoi (2001) and Bobby Chinn Saigon in Ho Chi Minh (2011). A few years later, Chinn would open “modern Vietnamese” eatery, House of Ho, in London.
Outside of physical restaurants, Chinn has appeared in a number of food-related specials, penned a wide-range of cookbooks, and worked alongside the likes of Martha Stewart and Anthony Bourdain.
On One: Get Fit, Chinn can be seen in “Detox!”, a two-part series in which the chef visits China to discover what the country can teach us about maintaining a healthy mind, body and spirit.