Saigon born and Germany raised, interior architect and home cook, Phan Thang Thai Hoa made a name for herself when she placed top 3 in MasterChef Vietnam, Season 1. This home cook blew away the judges and her success on the show lead to the release of two of her very own cookbooks, “Ngẫu Hứng Vào Bếp” and “Ngẫu Hứng Nướng”.
Trained as an interior architect, Thai Hoa returned to Vietnam in 2003 and worked at one of the leading architect firms, AA Corporation, before branching off on her own. She has built a strong reputation for herself, with the majority of her projects coming from client recommendations.
Then in 2017 opportunity arose when a space opened up in the trendy neighbourhood of Da Kao. Thai Hoa decided to make the leap and open her own restaurant, all the while running her architect firm. What she didn’t expect was that the previous owner had borrowed a lot of money and the restaurant was now being blocked for more money. She thought to herself, what did I get into? Opening a restaurant is hard enough and now I have to deal with this? And deal she did. With the help of some friends she managed to move the people along; the renovations and planning could finally start.
With a passion for traditional Vietnamese food, but with a German upbringing, Thai Hoa wanted the food to be a blend of the traditional with the western, while making sure to retain the Vietnamese flavours that she loves. In 2017, NEX (New EXperience) opened and there’s been a steady clientele from the neighbourhood ever since. NEX, has slowly but surely built a reputation for providing unique modern Vietnamese cuisine at affordable prices.
So, what’s next for Thai Hoa? She’s planning on opening up training programs to teach young people cooking skills. This will help to boost their confidence and provide them with a skillset that they can take into the world.