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Vietnam’s Development Through the Lens of Iron Chef

The Atlantic recently published a piece on Vietnam’s increasing development and westernization. Instead of looking at economic statistics and trends, they chose to examine this through the lens of one of the country’s most popular TV shows, Iron Chef.

According to Nguyen Van Tu, one of Vietnam's first Iron Chefs, the perception of chefs has evolved from servant to celebrity, "Many people come up to me excited because they saw me on TV."

Don Berger, a Montreal-born restaurateur and owner of Hanoi’s Pane e Vino echoed this feeling:

"Before Iron Chef, working in a restaurant was considered very low-class. Now it's sexy."

The popularity of the show also reveals changing culinary habits as Vietnamese become more open to new cuisines, especially among young urban women.

Of course, the main driving factor in this trend was the country’s rapid economic development over the past two decades. In 1993 per capita GDP was hovering above 200USD and has since risen to 1500USD.

Gone are the days of famine and lines for commodities that plagued the country during the post-war era. Le Hanh, Iron Chef Vietnam's executive producer, put it simply:

"Now that people have enough food to eat, they're looking for great food to enjoy."

Head over to The Atlantic to read the full article.

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