Executive Chef @ Tapalaya, Portland Oregon
Born in New Orleans where she lived with her Vietnamese family, Chef Anh Luu experienced a melding of culinary cultures early in her childhood. She grew up with the flavors of Southeast Asia from her parents’ cooking alongside the classic French, Spanish, Caribbean and African cuisine of New Orleans. This delicious culinary melange inspired her years later to create the unique Asian-Cajun tapas cuisine that she and owner Chantal Angot introduced at Tapalaya in Portland, Oregon in fall 2014.
Anh began cooking professionally in New Orleans at Vaqueros, a small Southwest grill, when she was 16 years old. Next, she was managing and cooking at Café Roma, while studying business at New Orleans-based Loyola University. While it was challenging to juggle school and work, she knew restaurant life was her true calling.
Anh was 19 years old when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Discovering their family home was submerged under 15 feet of water and finding themselves not allowed back in the city, Anh’s parents and brother moved to Portland where her sister lived. Not ready to leave Louisiana at the time, Anh continued her education, and gained more restaurant experience at the colorful Jacques-Imo’s Café and Crabby Jack’s in New Orleans.
In 2009, Anh moved to Portland to be closer to her family and attend the Western Culinary Institute (WCI), graduating with an associate’s degree in culinary arts. While attending WCI, Anh was hired as a line cook at Tapalaya in 2009, then promoted to sous chef. Subsequently, she was hired as second in charge at Tanuki, Chef/Owner Janice Martin’s izakaya in Portland’s Mt. Tabor neighborhood. Following Tanuki, Anh was hired back at Tapalaya as head chef in May 2013.
When Anh isn’t cooking at Tapalaya, she enjoys going on adventures with her dog, Ella, experiencing the many breweries and wineries in Portland and the Willamette Valley, and spending time with her family in West Linn, Oregon.