March 16, 2010
10-047

Kate Elliot
Communications Specialist

Celebrity Chef Serves up Cooking Demo March 23

VALDOSTA -- Celebrity Chef Mai Pham will engage the senses with her culinary mastery of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine during a public cooking demonstration from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on March 23 in the Palms Resident Dining Center. The presentation kicks off a six-week menu that will feature Pham’s Southeast Asian recipes exclusively at Hopper Resident Dining Center.

The restaurateur and Food Network host said she hopes the collaboration with Sodexo -- VSU’s campus dining provider -- will introduce people to the distinct flavors of lemongrass, ginger and other mainstays of the region’s culinary tradition. Cooking, Pham said, is a powerful tool to bring people together. Each of her dishes tells a story.

“My food is deeply rooted in tradition. Growing up in Vietnam, I watched my grandmother and mother express themselves through food and cooking,” said Pham, owner of chef/owner of renowned Lemon Grass restaurant in Sacramento, Calif., and food columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. “Whenever I make Mom’s Catfish in Claypot -- one of our best selling dishes at Lemon Grass Restaurant -- I think about the long (family) history behind it. I don’t feel a need to reinvent or redefine.”

Blazer Dining Operations Director Amanda Peterson said Pham’s authentic menu options are sure to satisfy college students’ growing desire for culinary adventure. Pham, the host of Food Network’s “My Country, My Kitchen: Vietnam,” said her dishes offer students, who may have never traveled, the opportunity to explore Asia through its smells and tastes.

Pham moved to the United States with her family after the Vietnam War ended in 1975. After earning a degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, the outgoing foodie enjoyed a career as a distinguished on-air correspondent for ABC News affiliates and later as speechwriter for the governor of California. In 1988, she traded news reports for a chef hat to open Lemon Grass Restaurant, which features an extensive menu that includes crispy spring rolls, grilled shrimp with green papaya, seared beef on rice noodles and Thai basil stirfry. She has since authored “Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table,” and “The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking,” which were featured on NPR’s Fresh Air and Martha Stewart Living television shows. Her line of sauces, dips and marinades are available at Corti. Bros., Whole Foods and Nugget Markets.

The Palm’s cooking demonstration is free with the price of lunch, $7.49, or a meal plan swipe at the university’s all-you-care-to eat dining facility. For more information, call Sodexo Campus Services Marketing Director Jenna Gilbert Maroney at 229-333-7146 or e-mail her at jennifer.gilbert@sodexo.com.