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Vietnamese-American student Huy Hoang explores culinary passion at RCBC

Although he may tell you it was by accident, Huy Hoang inherited his interest in cooking from his family. His family opened a restaurant, Kem Công Trường 35 years ago, in Saigon, Vietnam. The restaurant offered a variety of Vietnamese dishes, including soups, rice platters, snails and dim sum. However, their signature item that kept people coming back was their homemade coconut ice cream. 

As a child, Hoang grew up milling about in his family’s restaurant; he would wake up early in the morning to help or observe his parents preparing the food for the day. He credits those experiences as having influenced his love for cooking. Kem Công Trường gained a substantial following and earned its fame due to the quality of the food and the investment his family put into it. 

After having resided in Vietnam for the first 18 years of his life, Hoang decided to move to the United States in pursuit of a more well-rounded education. He earned an associate degree in food science from Camden County College and later decided to study culinary arts at Rowan College at Burlington County, as he determined it was a better fit for him. 

“There are so many memorable experiences I have had since I started studying at RCBC; one of the most memorable experiences was when I sat down with Chef James (Brudnicki) at the end of my classes to talk about food and our passion. He’s always a great motivation and someone I’ve looked up to the entire time I studied here,” Hoang said.  

Hoang’s cooking style derives primarily from his Vietnamese background; however, he has also been influenced by French and Italian cuisine. 

“I usually do a fusion in my dishes, yet there is a saying that ‘fusion is a big confusion,’ so I try to avoid that,” Hoang joked. “My favorite ingredients to use are duck, venison, boar and any type of wild game. I also like to use okra, bean sprouts and rice, but I’m always open to different ingredients since being a chef requires an open mind, and luckily I love all types of food.”

Hoang currently works for the Union League of Philadelphia, a private patriotic society that was formed in 1862. It’s also the place that inspired him to join the U.S Army. In fact, after just 8 months working there, he decided to join the military. He is now a U.S Army Reserve soldier, Combat Engineer-12b and is assigned to train at Fort Drum in the Reserve Unit. 

Hoang’s foray into the military can also be attributed to his grandfather, who had honorably served as a Captain in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. He was tragically killed in combat. 

“I love and am dedicated to serving the people of the United States and upholding the Army’s values,” Hoang said. 

During his free time, Hoang enjoys working out, creating new recipes and listening to classic and old school pop music. He is also an experienced dog trainer and owns an American Akita. Hoang’s ten-year plan involves following in his family’s footsteps and opening his own restaurant. He aims to earn the prestigious Michelin Star award. 

“I am very ambitious, and I wish to continue my grandfather’s legacy while also pursuing a culinary career,” Hoang concluded.  

Huy's story is part of RCBC’s 50 stories for 50 years. In honor of the college’s 50th anniversary, RCBC is profiling students, faculty, administrators, alumni and the college community. Anyone interested in being featured can contact rcbcnews@rcbc.edu. To follow along on social media, use #RCBC50Stories.