Student by day, chef by night


Photos provided by Andy Pham

“Did you cook this?”


“Who cooked this?”

“No, why would I?”

The Pham household looked around quizzically as they lingered around a freshly cooked pot of macaroni. Then, little 8-year-old Andy Pham came onto the scene.

“Nobody knew who cooked the macaroni until Andy woke up later, then we figured out later he was the one who [cooked] it,” mother Dora Truong said.

And, sophomore Andy Pham has been cooking ever since, and plans to become a professional chef in the near future.

“My uncle calls me ‘Pots and Pans Boy’ because when I was little, I walked into a store with him and the first thing I shouted out was ‘pots and pans,’” Pham said. “Kind of shows my love of cooking.”

As a child, Andy could be found close at his grandmother’s heels. Often carrying heavy pots for her, she and Pham were always at work in the kitchen.

“He always tried to help [his grandmother],” Truong said. “She talked to him all the time about the food and why she [did] this and why she [did] that. That’s why he knows a lot about food.”

Pham performs a balancing act with his social and hectic school life, while maintaining a passion for cooking. Although difficult, Pham manages to stay cool as a cucumber.

“It’s hard trying to find time [to cook], because when you want to cook something, it takes a long time,” Pham said. “You can’t make it in like what, 10 minutes? 20 minutes? So it’s hard trying to do homework and trying to make stuff at the same time, so I don’t always have time to make food.”

Heated argument after heated argument occurred when Andy’s parents learned of his ambitions to be a chef. Not wanting him to worry about money, they pushed for him to go into a medical field, until they realized cooking is his real love.

“Before, I [didn’t] want him to be a chef because I think the chef career is really hard for your life,” Truong said. “You have no weekend, no holiday and you have to work through long hours. But he [kept] telling me that he loves it, he loves it, and now I feel that whatever he wants to do, let him do it.”

Wanting to stay true to his cooking style of French Vietnamese, Pham wants to study at the top culinary schools in France, and hopes to one day be a head chef at a restaurant of his own, cooking his specialty: Vietnamese coconut pancakes.

“I want to go to France and study and work and intern in like, one of their restaurants,” Pham said. “I’m just planning on going to culinary school and if I have the opportunity, I’ll go to France.”

Andy hopes to exhibit his skills on the big screen one day, in shows like “Iron Chef” and “Chopped.” But for now, he plans to hone on his abilities before taking a step into the culinary world.

“When I come home from school, I’m really tired and stressed, so once I get into the kitchen, I feel all comforted and just free and really happy,” Pham said. “My parents are like, ‘Oh you’re always in the kitchen, aren’t you tired?’ And I’m like, ‘Nope.’ I can be in the kitchen all day and feel amazing.”