As we prepare for the Chefs Without Borders Holiday Meal on Friday, we would like to introduce you to some of the stars of the event. Today we spotlight Chef Khai, one of the co-founders of the Asian Chefs Association, Chefs Without Borders, and numerous other culinary projects you’ll soon be hearing about. Some of you may have seen his recent profile in the Silicon Valley Mercury News (read it here) but, if you still don’t know Chef Khai, let us introduce you to one of the world’s leading Asian fusion chefs.
Most people know Khai Duong as the man who brought Vietnamese cooking to haute cuisine. This should come as no surprise: as the former head chef of critically-acclaimed Ana Mandara, the 2012 gold medalist at the first ever Beijing International Culinary Competiton, and head judge of Iron Chef Vietnam, Chef Khai has rightfully earned his place in the pantheon of modern cooking deities. But as decorated as his culinary achievements are, Chef Khai’s commitment to philanthropy has been equally impressive.
“I love to give back,” says the chef. “I was given the chance to come to this country–to make something of my life. Now, I also have the chance to help those who are less fortunate than I am. The way I see it, life goes full circle; you give and you take. The more you receive, the more you give back. ”
Chef Khai’s philanthropic activities grew out his activities with the Asian Chefs Association (ACA), an organization he co-founded with Chinese American chef Lawrence Chu. Originally founded to provide professional development and mentoring opportunities for young Asian chefs, Chef Khai and his ACA colleagues realized they could leverage their foodie network for social good. Shortly after the formation of ACA, Chefs Without Borders was born as its charitable arm. Chefs Without Borders’ flagship charity project now consists of the annual holiday lunch and dinner for the homeless and low-income community at GLIDE Memorial Church, where thousands of community members get to enjoy an Asian fusion meal for free.
But as the very name of Chef Without Borders suggests, Chef Khai’s philanthropic activities are not limited by geographical demarcations. Following the disastrous Boxing Day Tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean in 2004, Chef Khai and his friends cooked up a charity dinner to raise funds for relief efforts. When he saw media coverage of the growing human trafficking crisis in Southeast Asia, he resolved to stem the exploitation of young women in whatever capacity possible. What followed was a partnership between Chefs Without Borders and the Pacific Links Foundation to start a vocational training and job placement program for young women at risk of being targeted for trafficking.
Along with his many activities for Chefs Without Borders, Iron Chef Vietnam, and the restaurants he’ll soon be raising, we’re sure you’ll see much more of both his food and his philanthropy to come.