One Star House Party, a traveling group of food and beverage professionals who build pop-up restaurants around the world, will be in Ho Chi Minh City for 5 nights: October 25th – 29th, 2017.
Coming from all over the world, the team will spend the beginning of October exploring the culture, the ingredients and the people that make Vietnam the prolific food destination it is. The team will travel across Vietnam gathering inspiration and ingredients along the way. Their journey will finish in Ho Chi Minh City, where they will build their intimate pop-up restaurant, serving the menu they have created during their travels across Vietnam.
Leading the team is Chef James Sharman ((previously of NOMA and trained by Tom Aikens, top row center), who set some time aside to answer our questions about their upcoming 5-day pop-up restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City.
Before arriving in Vietnam, what experiences have you and your team had with Vietnamese culture and its food?
As almost everyone with taste buds, we loved Vietnamese food, and we were desperate to understand how the cuisine always finds balance and harmony with flavors that don’t pull any punches. What we were most excited about, and what hasn’t disappointed is the ingenuity in Vietnamese food. Every dish, every cooking method or preparation is subject to its environment. The resourcefulness of Vietnamese cooking has blown us away! It’s something we have great admiration for as a pop-up restaurant.
What cities have you been to in Vietnam so far, and what culinary techniques and knowledge have you picked up along the way?
We never like to give too much away when it comes to the menu, but we have hiked through Sa Pa, where we found some remarkable ingredients growing around Ta Phin. We picked up a myriad of techniques on the streets of Hanoi. As I’m writing this I’m on the back of a motorcycle heading towards Ho Chi Minh City for the next ten days, gathering ingredients and ideas along the way.
The language barrier must be an obstacle here, how have you and your team over that?
We, of course, put a big effort into learning a little basic language before we get to each country that we build a One Star House Party, but for the most part we manage to make friends along the way that help us communicate.
You and your team work unpaid and have been known to barter for some of the ingredients, have you scored any bartering deals in Vietnam yet? Can you tell us what they are?
If we weren’t able to pull off a good deal, I wouldn’t be here writing this: I would be where I was a year ago, working as a chef in a restaurant in Denmark. It’s a constant battle to keep to militant budgets for buying motorbikes and ingredients etc…
Why did you choose HCMC, instead of the capital Hanoi to set up the pop-up kitchen? Also, why did you choose the more expat-oriented District 2 location instead of District 1 where’s it more diverse with expats, tourists and locals?
I have visited and loved both cities, Ho Chi Minh City just seemed to resonate in me, and the soul of the city parallels ours. It’s fast-paced, unpredictable and frankly nonsensical. We chose District 2 not for the area, but for the incredible building our friends have given to us for the week. It’s called the Glasshouse (29C Duong So 5, Cat Lai Ward, D2), and is essentially a furniture showroom, they built it themselves and is honestly one of the most beautiful and original spaces we have ever built a One Star House Party in.
You’re also building the dining space from scratch, what materials will you be using and tell us the inspiration behind the space?
Until we arrive it’s hard to say, we have six bikes between us, so whatever we can fit on them along the way will become the restaurant we build. Our motive is to create a sense of feeling over a spectacle. The purpose of this space is not to impress you with interior design, it’s to make you feel what we have felt exploring Vietnam.
What can diners look forward to on the menu? And will it change daily during the week-long event?
Right now we’re still in the pretty early stages. It’s definitely going to invoke a sense of community in the dining room. We really don’t like to give too much away.
After the event is over, what happens to the building materials, cutlery, dishes, etc? Do they get shipped to the next location, donated to charity or resold?
It’s usually a combination of all three. We often build our own tableware and give parts of it to our guests on the final night, equipment works well in a charity shop as it still serves a purpose. We don’t often take much with us from one country to the next, as each country leads us into a completely different cooking style that renders the old stuff useless.
What’s your next stop after HCMC?
We are heading to Thailand in November, then attempting to build a pop-up restaurant in Nepal, cooking for Sherpas at Base Camp Everest in December.
Tickets are USD90
Buy tickets for One Star House Party’s HCMC pop up here.
Follow them on Facebook here.