Saturday, October 13, 2012

"Vietnamese Cuisine in New Orleans"

New Orleanian Suzanne Pfefferle was always fascinated with Vietnam and dreamed of visiting the country. In 2010, that dream came true when she traveled to Vietnam with two former Mt. Carmel classmates for a three week adventure.

Once there, Suzanne immersed herself in the culture and cuisine. She took cooking classes in Saigon; ate from the street food vendors; and rather than stay in hotels, she stayed in family-owned guest houses where she dined with the Vietnamese families.  Suzanne said she became a pho fanatic, eating the local staple twice a day.

Suzanne also spent time on the coast of South Vietnam, where she sampled fresh seafood from large, open markets.  To the north, in the Central Highlands, she enjoyed food with a French influence in Da'Lat, known as the mini-Paris of Vietnam. 

Upon her return to New Orleans, Suzanne began compiling research to write a travel article about her adventure. On a whim, she contacted local chef John Besh by e-mail and requested an interview. Within a day or two, chef Besh's team responded and agreed to a meeting with Suzanne.  That meeting changed Suzanne's life. Chef Besh and his colleague, chef Brain Landry of Borgne, have close ties to the local Vietnamese community. They took Suzanne out to New Orleans East where they introduced her to Vietnamese farmers, restaurant owners, fisherman, and Fr. Vien The Nguyen, pastor of Mary Queen of Vietnam church.

By chance one day, Suzanne ran into longtime WYES cameraman Lenny Delbert in her Lakeview neighborhood. She mentioned the article on Vietnam she was writing, and Lenny encouraged her to collaborate with him to make a television show on the subject. Peggy Scott Laborde also encouraged Suzanne to produce her very first production for WYES. And, the rest, as they say, is history.

Suzanne interviews on camera chefs John Besh, Brian Landry and Dominique Macquet; host of Louisiana Eats, Poppy Tooker; and food writers Ian McNulty, Rene Louapre, and Peter Thriffiley, and others.  Tune in on Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 7 p.m.on WYES for "Vietnamese Cuisine in New Orleans." 

An avid traveler, Pfefferle has also visited India, Jamaica, and Egypt. Cuba is her next stop.

Pfefferle attended Loyola University as a Communications major and graduated from Our Lady of Holy Cross College in Liberal Arts, with a concentration on English and art. After graduation, she worked in the Promotion Department of Pelican Publishing Company.  

* All photos provided by WYES & reprinted with their permission.

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