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 Meet Our Alumni


Nguyen Hong Quan - Class 27

Chef and Head of Cooking Classes, KOTO Van Mieu Restaurant



Certificate III in Hospitality, Box Hill Institute through KOTO


I have so many highlights from my time at KOTO including travelling to Australia and New Zealand!


In 2017, I was humbled to win the inaugural Taste of Australia culinary competition with a fellow KOTO alumnus, Nguyen Phuong Dieu (Class 25). It was a challenging competition as it included many unfamiliar ingredients in the ‘mystery box’ such as Vegemite and a strong Australian black beer. In the final, we were delighted when the judges, chefs Luke Nguyen and Tracey Lister as well as the Australian Ambassador HE Mr Craig Chittick, voted our seabass delicately wrapped around a prawn with a lemon beurre blanc sauce as the winning dish. The prize – a fully-paid week-long trip to Sydney – was out of this world!

                                                                                                                                     >>>see more.


Ms Phan thị Hảo - Graduate of class 27

I was born in Lạng Sơn in the very northern region of Vietnam. Lan Son is a rural farming district with limited employment opportunities. Before I started studying at KOTO I was insular and depressed with no vision for my future. Living and learning at KOTO has changed my life.  Now I have skills, a career and direction. I feel very happy and love this life. I would not have believed that I could  get a job at a five star hotel like the  JW Marriott Hanoi .In the future I dream of owning a small coffee shop selling my homemade cakes and coffee.

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Mr Lương Tiến Độ - Graduate of class 27

My name is Do. I was born in the suburbs of Hanoi. Before going to KOTO i did not know what I wanted for my future and so I worked for a factory near my home to help support my family. It was luck that introduced me to KOTO and my luck has continued ever since, A relative heard about the program and encouraged me to apply. During my 2 years at KOTO I was very lucky to meet a lot of good people who helped and encouraged me and helped me to find my passion. Now I have had many opportunities to work abroad as well as in large hotel environments in Vietnam. I now have a stable job at the J W Marriott Hanoi that I love. My dream for the future is to continue to pursue my culinary passion and to share that passion with my colleagues and family.

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Mr Bùi Văn Dự - Graduate of class 20

I was born in Tan Son commune in Kim Bang province. Before I studied at KOTO I was a very shy kid with no confidence, no job and no plans for the future. I had no direction. Studying at KOTO for 2 years not only taught me new skills to work as a chef but also taught me how to be more open and confident in myself. Thanks to KOTO I am now able to have a good stable job and to earn money to support myself and my family. I have gained valuable experience as a chef working in popular restaurants in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. More than that though I now also have a dream; a plan for the future. I have a dream to progress in my career as a chef so I can build a home for my family.


Ms.Nguyễn Thị Thu Hương - Graduate of class 20

I was born and raised in Quang Tri this n Central Vietnam. Before I went to KOTO, I lived at the pagoda because my father died and my mother was incapable of raising me and sending me to school. To finish school I had to live away from my mother. After studying at KOTO I now have a career and a new direction. I even received employee of the month! My future dream is to become a kitchen teacher and share my skills with others.


Ms Do Thi  Ngan - Graduate of class 19

I was born in Vinh Phuc province, north of Hanoi. I was able to finish high school but after graduation I worked at an internet shop for few months. I did not have many other employment opportunities. I heard about KOTO from another KOTO trainee and it really interested me. I joined the program and I have found a career not just stable employment.

Since graduating I have been working at KOTO Van Mieu as a bar and restaurant supervisor. I love to work with the trainees and support and guide them just as I was supported. It is my honour to work at KOTO and give back to my fellow trainees. I love my career in hospitality and my future dream is to become a food and beverage manager.

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Ms Bien Thi Lien - Graduate of class 15

My parents passed away when my brother and I were still very young. We lived with our grandparents. A few years later, my grandmother died and my grandfather had to take care of us. Luckily, my older brother was introduced to study at KOTO.  However, life gave us further suffering when my brother was killed in a traffic accident. After his death, the teachers from KOTO came to visit our family and better understood our desperate situation. The opportunity to study at KOTO was passed on me. My life started to change from that day. KOTO gave me a family and continues to give me opportunities that I had never dreamed of. One day, I dream of having my own happy family and be able to give back to KOTO. 

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Mr Hoang Van Chuyen - Graduate of class 15

My hometown is Khuoi Ta village in Tinh Lang Son district. I was born into a large and poor family. I am the youngest child in the family and my family had no more money for my education so instead of studying, I worked as a labourer to help my family. My luck changed when I was referred to and accepted into KOTO. After graduating from KOTO I started working in 5-star restaurants and hotels. I now work as a Sous Chef at FLC Halong Bay. I thank the KOTO family for giving me the opportunity to study, learn more life skills and gain experience. My dream for the future is to become a head chef of a five star hotel or  open  my own restauran, so that I earn money to help those who are from a situation like me - to help my  KOTO family and help my own family.


Mr  Nguyen Van Nga - Graduate of class 15

I was born in Yen Bai city, and grew up in Sapa - Lao Cai. Before studying at KOTO I used to work at the poultry slaughterhouse in the Sapa market. I had to get up at 4am everyday and work long hours to survive. I had nowhere to stable to live because my parents died when I was young. Everything changed when I was accepted to KOTO. At KOTO I learnt English and excellent customer service skills. After studying at KOTO for 2 years I returned to Sapa and applied my new skills to become a local tour guide. I also work in sales jobs to earn additional income. I use this income to provide English teaching to local hospitality and tour staff in Sapa.

I currently work for a tour group in Sapa but my dream is to run my own eco-tourism company that showcase to the world the very best that Sapa and its people have to offer!


Ms Duong Kim Phung - Graduate of class 5 Saigon

I was born in Ho Chi Minh City and spent most of my time before KOTO taking odd jobs to support my family.  I sold sticky rice and soup on the pavement, looked after children or did whatever jobs I could to earn money. I did not have stable work or a stable future. After graduating from KOTO I have a chance for a new life. I am not afraid of being unemployed now because I have had training accredited by the Australian Government and have good hospitality skills. My family do not need to worry anymore and I also have a new family with KOTO. I have worked as a chef and my current role is Team Leader at the Nissin Food Joint Stock Company. In the future my dream is to open my own vegetarian restaurant, have a small food store for the poor and enough money to build a warm home for my parents.

Mr Phung Thien Thanh Minh - Graduate of class 2 Saigon

I was born in the Củ Chi district near Ho Chi Minh city. When I was young, my mum had a bad accident and her injuries meant she could no longer work. I had to leave school very early and take a job at a garage to help support my family. Our family life was quite difficult and I did not know what would happen in the future. Everything changed when I went to study at KOTO. After studying front of house service at  KOTO I have since worked at Sheraton Saigon, Six Senses Con Dao, and in the United Arab Emirates at Banyan Tree Al Wadi. These are places I had never dreamed about. Currently, I am working as the Guest Relations Manager at the Novotel Hotel on Phu Quoc island. My dream is to continue to improve and develop myself for higher positions in the hospitality industry so that I can provide a stable future for my family.

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