How I Melbourne: Frank Pham

Published on 7 October 2021

Photo: Melbourne YouTube sensation "Culinary" Frank Pham

Online and off with a home-grown YouTube food star.

Frank Pham is a Melbourne chef and YouTuber – you might know him better as Culinary Frank. Born in Ho Chi Minh City, he has lived in Australia for the past six years, the last two in Melbourne. The videos he posts as Culinary Frank – recipes for the most part, mostly delivered in a gentle, ASMR style, some in English, some in Vietnamese – have won him hundreds of thousands of subscribers and millons of views.

"Food has always been a big part of my life ever since I was little, even though my parents aren’t cooks or chefs they’re really into cooking so I guess I got that from them,” he says. Two big decisions have made a big impact on Pham’s life. Decision one was getting into food, and decision two was taking it to YouTube. "My YouTube channel is a place for me to express myself and share with viewers my life stories through recipes," he says. "It’s also a place for me to gather my thoughts and relax after days of hard work."

Here’s what Pham gets up to when he’s off-screen.

In the mornings you’ll find me hanging around my kitchen, cooking up breakfast for my wife, Jenny. If I have any new ideas, I'll jot down the recipe, take pictures of it and come up with a plan to film it for the next video.

My local is Thonglor Thai Restaurant. It’s a 10-minute walk from my place, and when I go for my regular stroll down to the Maribyrnong River of an afternoon, I pass them and can’t resist the delicious aroma of their pad Thai. 

My defining food moment in Melbourne was a friend taking me on a food tour when I first got here. We started at 7am with banh mi from N Lee Bakery, then went to South Melbourne Market for delicious treats from Agathe Patisserie with Padre coffee, then sushi for lunch and Korean barbecue for dinner. I was blown away by the diversity of Melbourne’s food culture.  

I know I’m in Melbourne when I find myself “lost” in a laneway and smell the wonderful aroma of coffee.

The best new thing I’ve found is Mee Dee Thai restaurant, located in the Paramount Centre in the CBD. I reckon they do one of the best boat noodles in town and at a very affordable price too.

When I want to push the boat out on a meal, I go to the market and get the best piece of steak possible, maybe some fresh oysters as well, and if truffles are in season, they definitely go on the shopping list.  

When I want to dazzle friends from out of town, I like to take them on a food tour, start early and eat our way through Melbourne's best food spots, just like my friend did for me when I first came here.

There’s no better value in Melbourne than Vietnamese food. You can get a loaded banh mi at Minh Duc bakery in St Albans for $7, spend another $3 for a Vietnamese coffee and you’re in food heaven. What a bargain.

My favourite place to stock up on supplies is Footscray Market. It’s so close to my house, and I feel like I’m back at home in Vietnam every time I go there. 

If I could change one thing about eating and drinking here it would be to have more street food. It is such a huge part of my culture and I miss the feeling of sitting out on the pavement on a tiny little stool but still being guaranteed a delicious meal.

But the one thing I hope never changes in Melbourne is the diversity and rich food culture. I love it.

Catch Culinary Frank on YouTube, and follow his further adventures at @culinary.frank and culinaryfrank.com






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