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Trainees Taste Success in Flavours of Vietnam Final Assessment

It was a night like no other.

On the Hafele rooftop, overlooking Hanoi’s Westlake, KOTO’s Class 35 prepared a five course degustation menu for their final assessment, built around the theme of the Flavours of Vietnam.

Amazing the crowd of KOTO businesses partners, supporters, and staff the students injected the spices of the ethnic minorities from which they came into each dish.

The cocktails, for example, were made with butterfly flowers from the Thai people in Tay Bac and with beans from the H'Mong ethnic minority in Yen Bai.

Mixed by our star bartender trainee Doan, a Nha Trang native, they went down a treat. That said, though he didn’t show it in the slightest, Doan says he did have concerns about how the evening would go.

“During the whole event I was feeling very nervous,” he said.

“But I trusted my teammates to do well and now, looking back, I feel relieved and I feel really comfortable and good about what we did.”

Doan was part of the front of house crew for the event who were all dressed in the traditional outfits of the Black H’Mong people from Sapa.

They, however, could not have achieved their amazing success without the planning team who were almost entirely hands off once the event commenced.

“The biggest lesson I have learned from all this experience is how to listen and empathise,” said Ho Chi Minh City’s, Phuong, who was responsible for the timing and structure of the event.

Along with the rest of the planning team she was forced to wait anxiously for the event to end.

“It was a long event but I was super happy and proud of the work that we’d done. And I was proud of both teams: the planning team and the execution team,” she said.

The food ranged from dried buffalo salad with a dressing made of Du Leaf, a rare delicacy of the H’Mong people in Dien Bien to a chocolate cake served with Bo Phon tea from the Giay people of Yen Bai. The stand out of the evening, however, was the beef tenderloin with a sauce made of Mac Khen seeds, a Vietnamese peppercorn grown in Dien Bien in Vietnam’s North Western region, a specialty of the Black Thai.

Head Chef, Hung, from Yen Bai, said it was challenging but well worth it in the end.

“The biggest challenge as head chef was that I had to take care of everyone. I had to lead other people while also helping to prepare all of the food and I also had to hear all the feedback and react to the feedback and it was really hard to balance.”

“It was a lot of work and I was very stressed out at the time. It was an exhausting day, but after finishing all the work and getting all the feedback I felt so relieved and happy and proud of what we did on that night. “

The evening was capped with speeches by two stand out trainees - Ngoc from Lai Chau and A’Giang from Lao Cai whose speech was made in Mong, the native language of his H’Mong people.

“It was super emotional to here A’Giang speaking in his mother tongue. I got chills,” said Phuong.

She wasn’t the only one. Tears flowed freely from trainees and staff alike.

Finally a musical performance by well known entertainer Edward Duong Nguyen rounded out the evening for guests.

The trainees, however, went on to get feedback and their final grade.

They all passed, of course, with flying colours.


To help more young people like Doan, Phuong, and Hung gain vocational training skills and go on to have fulfilling and rewarding careers in hospitality, please consider donating to the KOTO training program.


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