The dining scene in Ho Chi Minh City grows more and becomes more vibrant by the day, with new restaurants and bars sprouting almost everywhere in this bustling city. As a culinary enthusiast, can you spot all the emerging talents and dining venues in town?
The Vietnam Restaurant & Bar Awards, fondly known as Banh Mi Awards, continue to be one of the key highlights of the annual Flavors Vietnam program. The awards ceremony showcases Vietnam’s dedicated restaurant and bar community innovators and recognizes industry legacies and rising stars. This year's awards event will introduce two new categories: F&B Campaign of the Year and Young Leader of the Year.
We assemble some of the most renowned F&B movers and experts to join the grand jury to ensure the trophies go to those who truly deserve them.
“To Vietcetera, Flavors Vietnam is a significantly meaningful project through which we can impact by helping foster a strong, progressive, youthful F&B community in Vietnam. From a modest award ceremony in a small restaurant in District 1 to a large-scale event with thousands of guests and partners across different cities, our evolutionary journey bears a resemblance to how banh mi has made its way from common street food to a symbol of Vietnamese cuisine. Every year, we aim to shine the spotlight on ‘flavors’ as part of our effort to bring the world to Vietnam and Vietnam to the world,” said Thuy Minh, CCO, Vietcetera.
Touching the ingredients to feel their freshness, smelling to appreciate each subtle layer of flavor, and listening to chefs and bartenders disclosing their inspirations for each dish and cocktail - That's what food bloggers, content creators, and F&B industry professionals are doing.
They travel all over the country to enjoy and showcase local cuisine, taking their audiences on a journey of exploring every gastronomic nook and cranny, unfolding the story behind every eatery, drink, or brand we love.
Chu Hong Ha (Ha Chu) - Founder and CEO at COOKED F&B Business School / F&B Branding & Marketing Specialist
Ha began her journey in the F&B industry at a coffee chain about ten years ago. Fast forward to today, she’s gathered experience at over 20 of them, of all scales, including as PR & Marketing Manager at once-renowned Vietnamese start-up The KAfe.
Helen Le Ha Huyen - Brand ambassador and culinary representative of Vietnam
Helen is a Vietnamese culinary expert who has gained international recognition through her cooking channel, Helen's Recipes, and a series of cookbooks. She is committed to promoting the rich culinary heritage of her country to the world.
Uyen Dang (Bubufoodshow) - Food Blogger/Restaurant Consultant
Uyen Dang is one of Vietnam's established food influencers. Her blog, Bubufoodshow, is where Uyen shares her passion for food with local and international audiences and highlights chefs and notable industry stalwarts.
Vu My Linh (Nofoodphobia) - Food and Travel Blogger
Vu My Linh is a food and travel blogger with nearly 100K followers on Instagram, documenting her food and drink adventures in Vietnam and beyond through social media and her website since 2015.
Ly Thanh Co - Travel Blogger/Content Creator
Ly Thanh Co is a travel blogger with nine years of experience. He's also a book author who has published three travel books. Now he's a content creator known for movie critics, food reviews, and travel and lifestyle blogs.
Dustin Phuc Nguyen - Content Creator
Dustin Phuc Nguyen hosts his own shows — Bar stories and "Ăn Để Uống" (Eat to Drink) — on his YouTube channel “Dustin On The Go.” He is also one of the hosts of Vietcetera’s Coi Mo Happy Hours. It’s not hard to tell he is a cuisine and nightlife enthusiast at heart.
Calvin Bui - Food Blogger/Chef/ F&B business expert
Calvin Bui is one of the most reputable icons in Saigon’s food and beverage industry. He hosts his very own channel FKN DELICIOUSNESS and occasionally throws punchlines alongside Sonny Side as co-host for the Best Ever Food Review Show.
Clinking In Hand - Food Blogger
Clinking In Hand encourages drinking enthusiasts and newcomers in Vietnam to broaden their knowledge of the culture, the drinks, and the best way to enjoy the most out of F&B culture.
Hospitality/Brand Owners and Managers
The vibrant and youthful consumer market makes Vietnam an ideal place for new F&B brands to increase. But that also means constant fierce competition — a real challenge to many businesses.
F&B brand owners and managers could understand this for sure. To drive their business, they must endure all the ups and downs of the industry and witness every transformation, achievement, and new trend to gain deep insights into their customer behaviors, thus being able to deliver a priceless dining experience.
Eve Manne - Head of Modern On Trade / World Class Lead at Diageo Vietnam
Eve is an accomplished executive in the beer and spirits industry, boasting a wealth of experience and expertise. She has been with Diageo since 2019 to elevate customers’ drink experience, spread the message of drinking responsibly, and cheer the talents of the bartender community.
Lam Duc Anh (Leo) - Bartender/Brand Ambassador of Diageo Vietnam
Leo is a bartender, co-founder & owner of STIR - Modern Classic Cocktail Bar. He joined Diageo Vietnam as a Brand Ambassador in 2016. In his 15 years in the industry, Leo has inspired and introduced many of Diageo's quality products to the drinking scene in Vietnam.
Le Nguyet Anh - Bartender/ Brand Ambassador of LGI
When she's not behind the bar, Anh’s knack for adventure sends her on escapades to hidden neighborhoods and far-flung destinations in an animated search for delicious food and new inspiration for her next cocktail creation. Over her travels, she has realized that the people — not just the place — are essential ingredients to a perfect drinking experience.
Mary Vu - Manager of MAD House Restaurant/Co-owner of MAD Winebar Saigon
Good wine and foods are Mary’s biggest interests, along with her passion for travel. She is currently certified by WSET Level 2 (Wine and Spirit Education Trust globally recognized qualifications) and studying level 3.
Timen R. T. Swijtink - CEO at Lacàph
Timen has been exploring Vietnam since 2007 with a focus on consumer brands. He is the CEO at Lacàph, whose mission is to share Vietnamese coffee and culture with curious people everywhere.
Creative Minds of Space and Concept Design
What makes a dining and drinking venue worth visiting is not only the food or drink it serves but also the overall space and concept design. From the venue layout to the lighting and table setup, the space creates a brand identity in the eyes of the customers.
Here are some reputable space architects and concept designers in this year's award:
Fong Chan Zeuthen - Interior Architect
Living in Vietnam for 20 years, Fong Chan Zeuthen has seen and participated in developing an amazing Vietnam, and building F&B for Hotels and Resorts in the country.
Tuan Le - Creative Director/Co-Founder of The Lab Saigon and The Lab Concepts
Having lived and worked in Vietnam, Japan, Dubai, and finally, back in Vietnam, Tuan Le has found a home in the creative industry and built his creative firms.
Joshua James Breidenbach - Co-founder of Rice
Rice is known for building break-out brands such as Marou Chocolate and for developing award-winning work for Baemin, Uniqlo, and Unicef.
Joshua is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) and has received accolades from the Red Dot, Pentawards, Graphis, Dieline, and the Type Directors Club.
Travel and Hotel Partners
We will be opening the floor for a common but rarely discussed topic in the industry: The correlation between the hotel industry and F&B establishments and how dining and drinking venues set within a hotel property can offer a new experience for diners.
To grasp what trends are taking place in the hotel industry and how to leverage them, we invite some travel and hospitality professionals to join the grand jury this year.
Mario Mendis - CEO at Sofitel Saigon Plaza
Mario has over 22 years of experience in the hotel industry in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific region. He has worked for various international hotel chains, specializing in Food & Beverage leadership roles.
Vincent Vichit-Vadakan - Writer
Vincent Vichit-Vadakan is a Bangkok-based writer who covers food, travel, tourism, and social issues in Southeast Asia and around the world.
Olivier Garessus - Destination Manager
Olivier Garessus studied Hotel Management in his home country, Switzerland, and has lived in Vietnam for seven years. He has taken roles at destination management companies, focusing on the European market for Vietnam tourism.
Translated by Bich Tram