Isabelle is very proud of her Vietnamese heritage and was inspired by her Vietnamese mother who taught her how to cook. Her mother was born in Hanoi, North Vietnam, during the French conquest of Indochina. Most of the recipes for the menu items, were either inspired by her mother or originated from watching her mother cook. Cooking and eating fresh and organic, homegrown foods were very important to her mother and in the Vietnamese culture. There was no such a thing as eating fast food. Everything her mother cooked was from scratch and food never came out of a can, nor was it frozen. Isabelle says she was in awe watching her mother conjure up recipes and creating masterpiece meals without looking at a recipe book. This was before the advent of the internet and there wasn’t Google available to look up recipes. Isabelle proudly shares that her mother didn’t just cook Vietnamese food, she cooked French, American, Italian foods and there were lots of seafood fares. The meals were so delicious and Isabelle was known to eat five to six meals a day, all the day long, every day when she was growing up. Isabelle shared that her mother used to joke in a heavy Vietnamese accent “you have hollow leg, you eat too much! you eat to live not live to eat!” Her dad would weigh in and say, “you eat like a shrew and shrews can eat 10 times their body weight!” Isabelle proudly proclaims, “My mother was a self-taught culinary artist.”
In the summer of 2016, Isabelle opened a French – Vietnamese food trailer in Keene, NH. The trailer venture was inspired by her beloved sister, Trang. The original dream plan involved Trang working at the point of sale window in the trailer. Trang had a charming and great personality for that position and she loved to pretend that she was standing at the trailer window, engaging customers and taking their orders. For many years Trang couldn’t find employment because she had a debilitating illness. No one wanted to hire her and she desperately wanted to work and to live independently. Isabelle felt that she could uplift her sister’s morale and welfare by opening a food trailer and they would be partners. Trang would never have to be rejected again when seeking employment. They would do what they both loved, and that was to bring people together by cooking and sharing Vietnamese food.
Then, Trang died right before the food trailer was launched. And, before she passed away of complications from Lupus, Trang told Isabelle to stay strong, keep the Faith and, “create your dreams and live in them.” To bury the pain of grief, Isabelle forged on, by working long hours in the food trailer. Because of Trang, the dream didn’t die. Trang lives on within the heart of Isabelle.
“In memoriam, this French- Vietnamese culinary adventure is dedicated to the beauty that is, my sister, Trang.”