Vyvyan Huynh: 30 Under 30

Published on 15 June 2022

Photo: Vyvyan Huynh (photo: Clint Peloso).

Vyvyan Huynh grew up in Calgary, Canada, watching her mother whizz around their tiny baguette shop serving hot pho and pâté-filled banh mi.

Being exposed to the inner workings of a restaurant at a young age inspired Vyvyan to jump headfirst into hospitality, where she would thrive in the breakneck pace of day-to-day service. Her journey continues here in Melbourne at St Kilda favourite Stokehouse, where she and the team continue to push the boundaries of sustainable fine dining.

Hi, my name is Vyvyan Huynh.

Right now I’m working at Stokehouse in St Kilda as junior sous chef.

Before I started here, I worked at Bouillon Bilk in Montreal, Canada, where I had my first real experience of French fine dining. It was an amazing 14 months working for a strong and dedicated team. Before that I was at Park Restaurant with a Japanese sushi master, where I was taught how to handle the most incredible fresh fish from Japan. 

All up, I’ve been cooking for 10 years, five of them in Victoria. I started cooking in restaurants at the age of 16, so that would make this my tenth year. I moved to Melbourne in 2017.

And I’m passionate about sustainability, foraging, upcycling, plant-based diets, and food-waste reduction practices. Best of all is being able to teach my team what some of those actions look like. The team at Stoke is quite fortunate with the facilities we have, like our in-house composter, which generates water for the building. We turn all of our waste into projects or preserves, and we forage our way around Victoria through the seasons. We’ve also banned single-use plastics from the building, which has had a huge impact on the way we think and cook.

Which means I enjoy cooking things like… having a small social circle that eats a varied diet I task myself with piecing together dishes that everyone can enjoy, without being restricted. My favourite is Vietnamese. I find cooking a traditional Vietnamese meal so rewarding, it ticks all the boxes I want: fresh, bright, layered complexity, comforting; it fuels the soul.  

At 30 Under 30 I’ll be cooking mussels stuffed with toasted seaweed and a spring onion dressing. The idea came from my trips to Vietnam where my parents would let me eat kilos of molluscs: raw oysters, chilli stir-fried clams, steamed mussels and snails.

The person I’m most looking forward to working with for 30 Under 30 is quite literally everyone. It’s such an amazing event featuring some of the most hardworking individuals.

My favourite thing to eat in Victoria right now is… hands up for the wine bars out there. For me, being able to watch a tiny team knock out honest food while I spend the night getting educated about wine is always great. Such good fun – go support your local wine bar!

Finally, the big change I'd like to see in our food and drink scene in the next 30 years is a healthy work/life balance for the entire spectrum of hospitality: the beverage team, our floor staff, kitchen crew – we need to recognize that individuality makes the person, and the people make the team. Happy staff make happy food.

Catch Vyvyan Huynh at the 30 Under 30 Gala dinner on Thursday 28 July and at the 30 Under 30 dinner at Stokehouse on Wednesday 17 August.

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