With all that's going on in Charles Phan's life, from running his busy flagship restaurant (The Slanted Door) in San Francisco to participating
in culinary events like Pebble Beach Food & Wine to spending time with his young family, there's only one pace Charles is comfortable with—fast. Whether
diving into new projects, hiking Black Butte at Mount Shasta with friends, kayaking in Monterey with his kids, or catching rockfish at the Farallon Islands
with his brother, Charles is always looking for the next California adventure—and naturally, the perfect meal to accompany it.
Somehow, even his outdoor adventures always comes back to food. During a recent family camping trip to Samuel P. Taylor State Park in Lagunitas, Charles's grand
notion of teaching his young son a thing or two about cooking in the great outdoors, starting with the assembly of a rod and crowbar rig for rotisserie chicken,
ending with his son losing interest, leaving the chef to do the heavy lifting. One busy hour later, an amazing meal was served to his hungry, eager family. However,
in between manning his outdoor kitchen for every meal, Charles still managed to fill the weekend with hiking, biking and fishing—some of his favorite ways to relax.
Charles Phan's journey started in Da Lat, Vietnam, in 1962 where he lived with his family before they uprooted and landed in San Francisco's Chinatown district
in 1977. Since both parents held two jobs, Charles assumed the role of family cook, taking cues from his mother's French/Vietnamese cooking style that elevated
simple peasant food to new levels. He studied architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, before turning his attention solely to food.
Tapping into his design background, Charles's vision for the original Slanted Door was to create a stylish space for traditional Vietnamese cooking with a California
approach, using an ingredient-driven menu that changed often (with no bottled sauces or MSG). "My food philosophy was heavily influenced by Chez Panisse and
Zuni Café," Charles notes. His desire to break boundaries within the Vietnamese category has paid off. The Slanted Door has become one of San Francisco's top
restaurants, and Charles, a James Beard award-winning chef, continues to impress the greater culinary world with his unique sensibility toward food.