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Maggie Nguyen is a self-taught Vietnamese home chef. She was born in Saigon and grew up in Northern Virginia where her extended family settled in the 1970s. At a young age, she developed great passion for cooking from her mother, whose family get-togethers are always standing room only when she serves as the host.
Maggie absorbed and honed her cooking skills at her mother’s side and in her parents’ small restaurant and delicacy business. Like many of her generation, the elder Mrs. Nguyen cooked predominantly from memory and based on her instincts for how dishes should offer the taste of her native homeland. Naturally, there are neither written “recipes” nor authentic cookbooks to reference. Genuine Vietnamese cooking is passed down from one generation to the next, and recipes are limited to “a quick splash of this, a pinch of that” and sometimes a list of unfamiliar ingredients. It took time for Maggie to learn from this method, but the experience kept her focused first on the basics and then the art of cooking rather than the mechanical step based approach. Today, Maggie rarely uses a recipe; if and when she does, it’s only to browse the list of ingredients - then combining everything together just comes naturally.
To honor and pass on her mother’s cooking, Maggie and her four sisters, all living in New York City, formed a monthly cooking club where they meet to study, prepare a classic Vietnamese meal and catch up on each other’s hectic lives. To preserve the authenticity of their mother’s unique preparations, the sisters carefully break down the ingredients and exact measurements of each dish and document a final recipe for the benefit of generations to come. Again the sisters rely on their recollection of how each dish should taste when completing each recipe. Their mother is of course only a telephone call away when memory fails.
In her leisure time, Maggie enjoys throwing intimate but lavish dinner parties for friends and family. Professionally, she caters office lunches and private parties. She also prepares home cooked meals for New York’s busy bankers, executives, physicians and moms. She also teaches personalized hands-on cooking classes to individuals and small groups. Maggie specializes in authentic Vietnamese cuisine and is available for intimate dinner parties, catering and cooking classes.
When she is not in a kitchen, Maggie enjoys exercising outdoors - riding her bicycle or training for a marathon or a triathlon. Several times a week, Maggie can be found leading a group of cyclists on rides throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. In the summer of 2006, Maggie rode her bicycle over 4,300 miles cross country from New York City to San Francisco. Maggie will run her first marathon, the New York City Marathon, on November 6, 2011.