Nam Q Nguyen, or Chef Nam, spent the first seven years of his life in Saigon before his family escaped to Denmark in 1979 during the Vietnam War. Despite living in Scandinavia, his parents took every effort to ensure that the family kept their Vietnamese traditions and took great pride in the Vietnamese culture, starting with the dinner table.
Nam grew up learning the ropes of the kitchen from his parents. From plating to table setting and dining etiquette, it was impressed upon Nam that having a meal was not only about survival. Gastronomy was also about weaving elegance, refinement, and tradition through the art of culinary techniques.
Nam’s culinary journey began at the Copenhagen Culinary Institute, following which he joined the Grand Hotel in Oslo, Norway in 1997. He then moved to Michelin-star Le Canard Oslo where he grew in confidence of his abilities and in his calling.
Two years later, Nam took his culinary skills to New York’s premier Scandinavian restaurant, Aquavit, before he was lured to The Lighthouse, a concept in Singapore by the Les Amis Group, where he honed his fine-dining French cuisine. During his tenure from 2000 to 2002, Nam even picked up a Rising Chef of 2002 award at the World Gourmet Summit that year.
Nam’s kitchen expedition continued and saw him conquering more territories in various parts of the world, such as Raffles Hotel International in London and Bali’s The Legian Hotel. His last pit stop was helming the kitchen at the award-winning luxury hotel, The Sukhothai Bangkok as Executive Chef, before taking a leap of faith with his own business venture.
Nam conceptualised the quick-casual NamNam Noodle Bar, which was born in 15 October 2012. It quickly grew to be the talk of the town just months after its launch, serving iconic Vietnamese street favourites such as the quintessential pho and banh mi at affordable prices with no monosodium glutamate (MSG). Known to many as the pioneer trendsetting Vietnamese restaurant chain with snake-like queues, this chic noodle bar has sprouted in several prime locations at Raffles City, Wheelock Place, Suntec City and Plaza Singapura.
With a creative mind and teeth-gritting hard work, Nam is constantly inspired by emerging trends in the culinary scene. His aim to revolutionise Vietnamese cuisine, eventually brought NamNam onto the international stage.
In January 2015, the first NamNam overseas outpost opened in Jakarta, Indonesia. Quickly winning the taste buds of locals, there are now four outlets in this bustling city, with the latest outlet in Senayan City, South Jakarta, newly opened in October 2016.
The end of the year will also see two more overseas projects in vibrant Metro Manila. Located in commercial and residential complex Eastwood City, and integrated resort Resorts World Manila, NamNam’s expansion in the Philippines will no doubt strengthen the brand’s presence in Southeast Asia.