Learn more about this executive chef and his Vietnamese-style cuisine
Executive chef and owner
Slanted Door Restaurant
San Francisco, California
June 4, 2011
Safeway Outdoor Kitchen Stage
Some chefs are born and some are made. For Vietnamese-born chef Charles Phan, you could say it was a little of both. His mother, a talented chef with a French-inspired cooking style, elevated simple Vietnamese peasant food to new levels. Her inspiration, combined with his perspiration—as a teenager with parents working long hours, he cooked for their family of ten—distilled in young Phan a lifelong passion for food. Though he studied architecture at UC Berkeley, and dallied in the family garment business and a Silicon Valley software job, his cooking genes called him back to the City.
Phan’s vision of a traditional Vietnamese restaurant with a tightly edited menu relying on time-honored techniques and the freshest ingredients was perfectly timed and executed. When The Slanted Door opened in 1995, San Franciscans flocked to it. “My staff thought I was crazy,” Phan says. “I refused to cut any corners, use any bottled sauces, or the typical Vietnamese crutch, MSG.” Fifteen years, and one move to the Ferry Building later, Phan’s culinary instincts are still as on target as ever, and The Slanted Door is a San Francisco institution, a must-visit for foodies nationwide.