Luke Nguyen’s passion for food leads him out of Asia and into France, the culinary wonderland that shaped his ancestral home, Vietnam, and the lives of so many in his family. Double-episodes airing from Monday Dec 26 at 8.30pm on The Food Network.
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14 Aug 2014 - 10:18 AM  UPDATED 10 Sep 2017 - 12:26 PM

About the show

"My search to understand my own Vietnamese culture has lead me here to France. The French colonized Vietnam for almost 100 years. And during this time, they left their mark on Vietnamese culture and cuisine. Both cultures share a passion for food, fresh produce. Baguettes, coffee and the vibrant curbside dining scene. But above all, we all share the love for anything food. I'm travelling the country to discover the French influence on Vietnamese cuisine and along the way learn more about French regional cooking." Luke Nguyen

Luke starts his culinary journey in the country’s capital, which is also its biggest city. Helped by family and friends he explores Parisians’ passion for food, decadence and tradition. He then heads east to the imposing medieval architecture of Strasbourg and the unique culinary customs of Alsace. In the dewy mountains of the Franche-Comté, with chefs who have won Michelin stars, Luke tastes dishes made from age-old recipes and uses local produce to create his own delicious food – with his signature Vietnamese twist.

In Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France, Luke cooks street-side with an old mate and alongside the country’s top chefs and home-cooks. Travelling along France’s famed southern coastline from Nice to Biarritz, local characters open their homes and share family recipes. Luke’s journey then takes him through the iconic Loire Valley and later to Brittany where he enjoys French food heritage at its best.

Luke’s passion for food coupled with his disarming nature unearths a side to the French food culture and lifestyle that has rarely been seen on television.

 

Episode 1: Paris

Luke Nguyen embarks on a culinary journey through the heart of Paris, discovering Parisians’ passion for food, decadence and tradition. Walking the city streets, exploring the French capital’s oldest market and cooking with his Vietnamese-French cousin Laurent, Luke investigates how France has influenced Vietnam’s culinary scene.  He creates a fusion steak tartare dish with traditional Parisian butcher Yves-Marie and experiences the sweeter side of the city from the rooftop of the Westin with beekeeper Nicolas Géant. Luke also takes a lesson in indulgence – and history – with a three-course soufflé. 

 

Recipes

Vietnamese steak tartare

Caramelised mackerel

Melted goat's cheese on sourdough (crottin chaud sur toast)

 

Episode 2: Paris

Luke Nguyen digs deeper into Parisian food culture and life. He sets up his kitchen on a friend’s rooftop in order to cook pot-au-feu, the original version of the French dish that became Vietnam’s iconic staple, pho. He tries his hand at crafting a true French baguette with the help of artisan baker Benjamin Turquier. He has the pleasure of cooking a seasonal asparagus dish with French-Italian chef Erik Fontanini in the childhood garden of King Louis XVI.

 

Recipes

French beef stew (pot-au-feu)

Slow-roasted goat baguette (chèvre rôti sur baguette)

Asparagus with mousseline sauce (asperges sauce mousseline)

 

Episode 3: Strasbourg (Alsace)

From Paris, Luke Nguyen heads west to Strasbourg where he develops a taste for all things Alsatian. There he discovers the secrets behind Strasbourg’s most famous – and controversial – dish. As importantly, he learns how to eat it. He meets Alsace’s ‘Queen of Gingerbread’ to learn the art of making pain d'épices and then creates his own roast pigeon masterpiece using her specialty spice mix. Luke samples Strasbourg’s famed tart flambé and visits a local family where he is taught how to make their unique specialty, fleischnacka, which means “meat-snail”. 

 

Recipes

Three fish with choucroute

Pigeon with gingerbread

Beef pastry snails

 

Episode 4: Port-Lesney (Franche-Comté) 

Luke Nguyen’s journey takes him to the Franche-Comté where he finds age-old recipes and experiences new levels of decadence. After going foraging with chef Pierre Basso Moro, Luke enjoys one of the Michelin star winning chef’s most beloved dishes, which uses the famed Bresse chicken. Given the opportunity, how could he not visit Rachelle Roussel-Voisard, a Bresse chicken farmer, to learn why these chickens are so prized? Setting up his kitchen in the picturesque paddock, he uses one of the chickens for a dish inspired by Vietnam. A Napoleonic fort that has been converted into a giant cheese cave has the ingredients he then needs for his warming fondue dish. 

 

Recipes

Spring vegetables and foraged herb salad

Comté cheese fondue

Crispy skin chicken with master stock

Bresse chicken in yellow wine

 

Episode 5: Lyon

Luke Nguyen heads to Lyon, the food capital of France. He makes a classic salad Lyonnaise after teaming up with celebrity chef Grégory Cuilleron, then explores Lyon’s famous silk tunnels. Luke has a wine early in the morning with his old friend Momo before setting up a kitchen in the middle of a farmers’ market. The men wax lyrical about Lyonnaise food culture while creating a dessert inspired by the fruits of spring. Luke checks out some Trompe L'oeil art and is invited into the kitchen of one of France’s most respected chefs, Jean-Paul Lacombe. He learns the secret behind making a traditional chicken liver cake with Arlette, one of Lyon’s most beloved Bouchon cooks.

 

Recipes

Lyonnaise salad

Chicken liver cake

Lychee and lemongrass bavarois

 

Episode 6: Marseille

Luke Nguyen heads to Marseille, the capital of Provence, to immerse himself in that city’s food and art culture. He hitches a ride to the local fish market with Marseille restaurateur Georgina. Using ingredients fresh off the boat, the pair draws a crowd as they set up beside the old port and cook up Georgina’s fusion African-French fish soup. Luke then heads to a grungy art space to create another fusion dish; this time with Michelin star winning chef Sébastien Richard. The resulting dish, cooked in a mobile wok cart, is imbued with the flavours of the Mediterranean. Luke finds a gorgeous little harbour to cook his delicious salt and pepper cuttlefish, then heads out of town to the home of his uncle. They swap family stories and cook a French-Vietnamese meal using veal and red wine. 

 

Recipes

Georgiana's fish soup

Wok-tossed Mediterranean lamb

Salt-and-pepper cuttlefish

Veal in red wine

 

Episode 7: Nice

Luke Nguyen travels to Nice, the jewel of the French Riviera, where the fresh produce is as beautiful as the scenery. Luke and local chef Dominique Le Stanc ride their bicycles to the local farmers’ market to collect the ingredients for a delectable onion tart and zucchini flower dish. Going to Nice and not cooking salad Niçoise would be a sin, so Luke learns how to prepare the real deal in a traditional Niçoise kitchen. He then takes a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais before heading to the hills to cook with sardines in the traditional way. The three ‘S’s of Nice are: sea, soccer, and socca: Luke discovers the latter is cooked in an ancient wood fire oven. He meets with Nadim and his wife, the proprietors of Oliveira, to discover the region’s best olive oil and her famous eggplant dip.

 

Recipes

Fried zucchini flowers

Onion tart

Niçoise salad

Stuffed sardines

Chickpea pancakes

Eggplant and goat’s cheese dip

 

Episode 8: Biarritz & Île d'Oléron

Luke Nguyen explores France’s southwest, sampling Basque delicacies in Biarritz and oysters on the island of d'Oléron. He discovers the key ingredients in Basque cuisine – Espelette pepper and artisan jambon – with chefs Eric and Sebastian. With cuddly pastry chef Didier, and under the watchful eyes of his dog and goldfish, Luke learns how to make a true Basque gateau. At St Jean De Luz, he meets the Marie-Claire, a veteran of the fish market, who provides him with an insider’s look at the fish auctions. She then shares her speciality seafood soup dish. At d'Oléron, Luke samples some of the freshest oysters in France and cooks local langoustine alongside local artist Mia. 

 

Recipes

Pork neck with Basque vegetables

Gâteau Basque

Merlu soup with asparagus and peas

Stuffed squid in black ink sauce

Wok-tossed langoustines with samphire and oyster sauce

 

Episode 9: Île d'Oléron

Luke Nguyen continues his journey around the oyster island of d'Oléron before exploring the food traditions of the Loire Valley. He can’t stop talking about the infamous “hot oyster” with local restaurateur James. He is reminded of his childhood through his forages for clams with local fishermen Patrick and John. A break-wall is as good as anywhere to cook up a fusion clam feast. Luke discovers some of the magic of the Loire Valley when he cooks a sumptuous rabbit dish in the cellar of an old chateau with owner Sebastian. They share a glass of wine, some freshly baked bread and a sing-a-long with some local fisherman, before Luke unearths the troglodyte fine dining scene. 

 

Recipes

Razor clams in coconut broth

Rabbit cooked in red wine

Hot oysters in creamy beurre blanc sauce

Wood-fired fouée with goat's cheese

 

Episode 10: Loire Valley & Saint Malo

Luke Nguyen experiences life and food on the Loire River before finishing his culinary journey through France in the seaside town of Saint Malo. Luke traps an eel with local fisherman Bruno before cooking up one of his signature dishes on Bruno’s handmade houseboat. He spends his last night in the Loire cooking a rustic roast duck dish by an open fireplace. Heading to St Malo, a town of pirates and seafood delights, Luke catches giant crabs with local fisherman Gill. Tamarind is the ingredient that makes the crab dish so delicious. Over the provincial border in Normandy, where Mont Saint-Michel looms large, Luke shares his knowledge of salt marsh lambs. Back in Saint Malo he meets with larger-than-life character Jean Yves, a third generation butter specialist, and cooks a delicious scallop dish. Looking back at his wonderful experiences travelling through France, Luke muses: “If there is a more beautiful place on earth, I can’t wait to see it!”

 

Recipes

Pan-fried eel in coconut and saffron sauce

Crab wok-tossed in tamarind sauce

Chargrilled saltmarsh lamb

Scallops with seaweed butter