Celebrity Chef Luke Nguyen Talks Travel
APT Ambassador Luke Nguyen is one of the country’s best-known chefs, opening his first restaurant aged 23. Here, the Vietnamese-Australian food icon talks travel.
Do you remember the first holiday you took as a child?
It was a road trip from Sydney to the Gold Coast: a 10-hour drive that felt more like 20 hours, as I was crammed in my dad’s purple Ford Escort with my many cousins and siblings. My parents insisted that we visit all the iconic “Big Things”, like the Big Banana and Big Pineapple. I was about seven.
Where did your family tend to go for holidays when you were growing up?
My parents ran their own small Vietnamese restaurant in Cabramatta. They worked breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week, so we seldom got the chance to go on family holidays.
What was the first trip you took by yourself or with friends?
It was when I was 16 years old, with my older brother Lewis. He drove me and a few school friends to Thredbo. It was the first time I had seen snow and also the first time I got concussion. I had no idea what a “black run” was – and I found out the hard way.
Do you remember your first overseas trip?
It was to Tokyo. From Narita airport, I caught a train into the city and I remember struggling up the stairs from the subway with my 25-kilogram backpack. I came up to ground level and my heavy load became light as a feather. I felt like I was floating in an awesome dream – bright flashing lights, massive LCD screens, enormous billboards, ultra-cool people zipping past me as I stood in amazement.
What are your top three favourite destinations in the world?
Hong Kong, Paris and Tokyo. All three are rich in culture, history, art and the food offerings are very diverse – from street food to farmers’ markets to Michelin madness.
What’s the best destination for food?
Undoubtedly Vietnam. Vietnamese cuisine is incredibly diverse. I’ve travelled there extensively, and I'm forever learning something new.
Do you have a bucket list of destinations?
India, Sri Lanka, Africa, Russia, Bhutan, Croatia and Nepal.