CHEF BT'S EXPERIENCE
My love of cooking began as a child in Vietnam in my family’s kitchen. At the fall of Saigon, I began a long journey as a refugee, finally ending in the United States. After college, I pursued a career in the fashion industry. During all this time, I continued with my passion for cooking. I finally started Exodus, a late-night café, in an unfashionable North Tampa location. Ultimately, I left the fashion industry to become a full-time restaurateur.
Vietnamese Cuisine is light, subtle and elegant. Its simple yet sophisticated style is characterized by organic, fresh, clean tastes; by the delicate blending and extracting of spicy and sweet flavors and its seductive exotic aromas. Chargrilled beef is paired with tart raw watercress, and pungent shrimp paste with sweet sugarcane. Adding a handful of crispy roasted shallots or peanuts creates contrasts with soft rice noodles, while fresh red chilies and chives garnish a bowl of sweet and sour seafood. Above all, Vietnamese cuisine is all about balance – balance of flavors and fragrances, of textures and colors. A dish should be as pleasing to the eyes and nose as it is to the palate.
In the late 1800’s French cuisine came to Vietnam, when Vietnam became part of French Indochina. The French remained for over a hundred years and had a profound influence on Vietnamese cooking, introducing, among other things, the technique of sautéing, the use of bones to make stock, the cultivation of asparagus, and the use of butter, cream, and sauces.Most of my dishes mix these cuisines, preserving and honoring the colonial-era marriage of classic French technique and traditional Vietnamese dishes. Other dishes add elements of other global cuisines.
I have been very influenced by both traditional Vietnamese and classic French cuisine while constantly seeking new twists. In the restaurant industry for over 25 years, I have been fortunate to have studied with well-known chefs around the world, and consulted for restaurateur Jean Denoyer at his renowned restaurants, Le Colonial in San Francisco and in
New York. In San Sebastian, Spain, I had an opportunity to work at Arzak.
My cuisine has been featured in Bon Appetit, Condé Nast, Travel and Leisure and on “Emeril’s Florida” television show on The Food Network. I have worked with Roy Yamaguchi, Morimoto and, in San Sebastian, with Juan Maria and Elena Arzak.
While I treasure the opportunities I have had to work with celebrity chefs, nothing is more satisfying than being able to serve my friends here in Tampa. I continue to try to broaden my knowledge of different cuisines, travelling in the Caribbean, Spain, France, Italy, England, Denmark, Corsica, Switzerland and Africa to various wine regions. I incorporate this knowledge into my menu and try to provide fellow food lovers with an innovative and fresh mixture of organic ingredients, small farm meats and poultry, wild fresh-caught seafood, and local Florida produce. With a wide variety of distinctive global touches, my dishes are still based on my Vietnamese and French origins.
I hope you enjoy our food and spend some time with our wine list. I personally select each wine with our menu in mind and regardless of price, there should be a wine to satisfy every palate and pocketbook.
Besides supporting local and independent Florida farmers and fisherman, we make every effort to help the environment and reduce carbon emissions by reusing and recycling almost everything at the restaurant. Even the paper is shredded and donated to the Humane Society for animal bedding; used oil is donated for a gasoline alternative.
From my beginning at Exodus to Café BT, The Yellow Door and Noodle Lounge all the way to my current fine casual Bistro BT, the convenient BT-TO-GO, and the recently opened BT in a Box, as well as the intimate restaurant and garden patio of Restaurant BT, I hope you will share my passion and enthusiasm. My long-time multi-national kitchen staff, my attentive wait staff and I all look forward to welcoming you to what we promise: a unique and exquisite dining experience.