Chef Mimi Lan grew up in a Vietnamese foodie family where she made her first foray into the culinary world as a child helping her mom and relatives around the kitchen. Food- the creation, presentation, and consumption- has been ingrained in Mimi since she was little, and the experience gave her a solid foundation of knowledge about Vietnamese food, ingredients, seasonings, and techniques.
Back when Mimi was trying to find her career path and before the explosion of the food movement and cooking TV shows, the job definition of a chef’s career was limited, far from being as open and evolving as it is today. Therefore, Mimi studied marketing instead, and even owned and operated an award-winning full-service marketing company in Texas for 16 years. However, the notion of expressing herself through food and the gratification Mimi received from the pleasure that her cooking could give others never ceased. After her daughter went off to college, and with encouragement and support from family and friends, Chef Mimi Lan’s pop-up Viglo (Vietnamese with global influences) dinner series and culinary consulting firm, Taste Curator, was born.
“…the notion of expressing herself through food and the gratification Mimi received from the pleasure that her cooking could give others never ceased.”
The Viglo dinner is a 5-course gourmet Vietnamese with global influences dinner, supplementing each dish with cultural and historical commentary. Each Viglo dinner is held at a different venue, and no Viglo dinner menus are repeated. The first Viglo dinner will be held on Wednesday, August 10, 2016, at Aqua Grill in Ponte Vedra, Florida.
Mimi is inspired by a wide range of culinary adventures, from mind-blowing meals from hole-in-the-wall joints to Michelin-starred restaurants around the world. Her curiosity reinforces her keen palate and further opens her mind to different flavors. Her cooking skill was elevated and improved through these exquisite experiences, as well as with numerous cooking classes worldwide and food conversations with local chefs with whom she befriended and exchanged cooking techniques and “secret” ingredients.
Vietnamese cooking is about achieving the balance between the use of five elements of spices (ngu vi) to represent the five elements of the earth: spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (Earth). Although Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines in the world because of its use of fresh herbs and vegetables, but many traditional recipes rely on deep-frying for flavor. Chef Mimi prefers roasting, baking, grilling, broiling, braising, searing, steaming, and blanching (with fresh, local, whole, organic, and unprocessed ingredients) for healthier, more modern versions of classic Vietnamese dishes.
While she enjoys cooking many types of cuisines, Vietnamese food is closest to her heart because of her origin and heritage. Mimi’s goal is to combine value, quality, and a unique dining experience to elevate the Jacksonville Asian cuisine scene up the stairway of gastronomic respectability.