For executive chef/proprietor Tammy Huynh and proprietor Tanya Huynh Hartley, Tam Tam Restaurant is their newest dedication to the culture, people, and food of Vietnam. At Tam Tam, the two sisters hope to create a casual space where guests can explore classic Vietnamese foods and flavors.
Born in the coastal city of Vung Tau, Vietnam, Chef Tammy often returns to Southeast Asia to shop at the local markets, finding new ingredients to inspire signature dishes at Tam Tam Restaurant and Tamarine Restaurant & Gallery. With an abundance of fruits, vegetables, and spices native to the tropics, many culinary discoveries have yet to be made.
Tammy’s cooking blends the classical skills she learned from her mother Chac Do, a single mother of seven, who began the family’s affair with food as a seafood exporter in Vung Tau, Vietnam. Upon arriving in America, Chac Do adapted her vast culinary repertoire with local American ingredients, while at the same time teaching her daughter Tammy the classic Vietnamese culinary tradition. Expanding upon this foundation, Tammy’s creativity and experimentation with pan-Asian cuisine led to such signature dishes at both restaurants. Her love of cooking and experimenting with food prompted her to leave her pharmacy practice and begin her culinary career in 1996.
Tammy describes her culinary approach as a blend of various influences. “Naturally, I incorporate many fresh and seasonal California ingredients and apply a strong sense of Vietnamese technique, but I like to incorporate subtle flavors that surprise and excite the palate and that create extraordinary wine and food pairings.” Tammy respects both the simply fresh as well as the richly exotic ingredients she works with.
Now, after nearly 20 years leading one of the Bay Area’s most exciting restaurants, Tamarine, Tammy is thrilled to bring forth Tam Tam Restaurant, where the traditional dishes and flavors of her childhood will be transformed through her contemporary approach to Vietnamese cuisine.
Tammy studied biochemistry at the University of California at Davis and earned a doctorate in pharmacy from University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. Tammy continues to work with Tamarine Restaurant & Gallery, while overseeing the kitchen at Tam Tam Restaurant.
Family, tradition, culture. These are words that evoke strong emotion, fond memories, and form the foundation for the essence of being. Depending on where your roots are grounded, they are unique and experientially different. What ties these words together for every person though, regardless of their background, is food! Food is more than sustenance. It is in the sharing of food that brings us together. It tells a story of culture that can be appreciated even if we cannot speak through a common tongue. It represents love and hospitality to a guest, offered to honor their presence, and to make them feel welcome. And most of all, food speaks a common language to the senses. Tanya and her family left Vung Tau, Vietnam in 1976. When they arrived in America, they could not speak the language, but they knew how to communicate with their new friends and neighbors by sharing their story and exotic southeast Asian cuisine around the dinner table. Vietnamese food is easy to love. It is fresh and light, with delicate spices, fresh herbs, savory sauces, a touch of sweetness, and a blend of textures. Delicious proteins from both land and sea mix seamlessly in most of our dishes. Over the centuries, their ancestors put their own culinary twists to the shared geographical food history with China, and built upon the culinary influence of their colonial days under the French in more recent times.
With some prompting from friends, Tanya’s mom opened up one of the first traditional Vietnamese restaurants in the Bay Area. Acclaimed for authentic taste within the Vietnamese community for over three decades, the Vung Tau group of restaurants has been sharing their culture and their story to not only people longing for a taste of home, but to a wider audience who have discovered the unique and delicious flavors of Vietnam.
With a background in business and Human Resources/Recruiting at high tech companies, Tanya partnered with her award winning executive chef sister, Tammy Huynh, in Tamarine Restaurant & Gallery and Tam Tam Restaurant. At both restaurants, classic Vietnamese recipes and flavors are presented in unique and modern ways to delight your senses. Together they open up their hearts to invite you to share in the tradition and culture of their homeland through the delicious flavors of modern Vietnamese cuisine.
Tanya manages business operations at Tamarine Restaurant & Gallery and Tam Tam Restaurant.