♪♪ Cyndi: This is normally prepared, like, on special occasion, because, as you can see, this is very -- -Like New Year coming up?
-Our Tet New Year is coming up, -Really?
-The year of the dog.
-The year of the dog.
It is actually my year, by the way.
What is the food of New Year?
What should I eat?
What should I look for?
Are you an exotic eater?
Like, are you willing to, like, take the risks?
I felt that there was a little doubt in the voice, there.
I don't know what just happened.
I just want to make sure.
-I just want to make sure.
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So, we have a dish called tiet canh.
So it's actually -- We -- It's a duck.
It's a duck plate.
So, we kill the duck.
We drain the blood from the duck.
Then we cook up the meat.
Then we chop the duck into little chunks.
We pour the chopped duck meat onto a plate with some green mints, and then we pour the sterilized blood that we took from the duck, -and we put it on top of it.
And it sits like a Jell-O, and then you eat it that way.
-I love it.
-See what I'm saying?
I've never had a dish like that.
Oh, my God.
-Oh, lord, I wish I -- -No, but, I mean, I grew up with blood pudding.
There's no difference between -- Like, in France, you call it boudin.
-Yeah, it's the same thing.
-It's no difference.
-I love it.
What about your kids?
I trust your kids.
Do your kids eat it?
[ Both laugh ] I'm Chef Marcus Samuelsson, and as an immigrant born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, food, to me, has always told a deeper, more personal story.
♪♪ It's a past, culture, identity, and history.
Now it's a party.
I'm going across the country to learn more about American immigrant communities and culinary tradition to see how food connects us all across the United States.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ When you think about New Orleans, you're just transported somewhere else.
It doesn't feel like anywhere else in America, and I think that's a good thing.
That's why we love it.
People are drinking bourbon in the middle of the day.
People are shucking oysters.
There's music and jazz and hip-hop coming out everywhere.
People want to celebrate life, and they love their city.
What makes New Orleans so different is really its influences from all these ethnic cultures -- Africa, Spanish, French, crayfish, oysters, po'boys, all of it.
Shake it all up, just like a great gumbo.
No matter what culture you are, you feel like, "This is a place for me."
People know the French Quarter all over the world.
People know Bourbon Street.
But let me take you on a different ride, circa 40 minutes from Bourbon Street.
♪♪ The Vietnamese community made NOLA East their home.
Highly entrepreneurial, sticking together, the Vietnamese in New Orleans have very quickly become an incredible, important part of the fabric of the city and an incredible immigrant American story.
♪♪ In 1975, after the Fall of Saigon, a wave of refugees fled Vietnam and settled in New Orleans.
Fishing is big in both cultures.
The climate, it's very tropical.
It's also a Catholic city, which a lot of the refugees were leaving Vietnam, so New Orleans was a perfect match.
I order this all the time when I get here.
Should I dunk it in the peanut sauce first?
Dip it in... -Yeah.
-...and it's going to be divine.
I'm being introduced to NOLA East by Cyndi Nguyen.
Cyndi came here as a refugee with her family in the late '70s.
She's also the first Vietnamese-American councilwoman of NOLA East district.
This is an amazing achievement.
We're here with Cyndi Nguyen, the winner tonight for the District East seat, and tell us, how are you feeling?
It's a big OMG, but we're really excited about this opportunity of bringing community together.
So we're in Eastern New Orleans at Ba Mien restaurant.
Like, this is, like, my spot.
-This is, like -- If you really want true Vietnamese authentic food, this is the place that you want to be at.
Ba Mien is in a mall.
You might drive by it.
You might not see it.
There's something beautiful about it.
Very known locally.
It's all about the food.
The food is incredible.
♪♪ -Here you are, sir.
-What do we have here?
Here is stir-fried vegetable with shrimp... -Beautiful.
The basket is nice.
Yeah, the basket is our crispy egg noodles.
Thank you, Chef.
Before you were a politician, what did you -- I'm never going to be a politician, by the way, and if I ever become one, please come in and knock the daylight out of me, okay?
-[ Laughs ] I've always been in serving people, serving community, and so I don't believe I'm in politics.
-I love that.
And you have -- -Yeah.
This is a big community.
This is a very important part of the city, and it was historically an African-American neighborhood that now has large Vietnamese but also a Latin population as well, right?
Exactly, but the African-American community is still the largest population in the east.
When you meet Cyndi, you just feel her energy.
She deeply cares about this specific community.
And to bridge all of those different cultures, connect them back with the city, it's a big deal.
What is this?
All right, Chef.
This is our special combination salad.
So as a Vietnamese-born, I still have that taste bud for traditional Vietnamese cooking, and it's in here.
-So you're used to this?
-This is your soul food?
This is a very light, very easy to make.
♪♪ One of my favorite things about Vietnamese food is how super complex it is.
It's an extremely light and bright cuisine.
Fresh herbs, mint, cilantro, lemongrass, ginger, but then it's also very, very rich.
You taste umami.
You taste contradicting sort of flavors like shrimp next to beef tongue next to chicken next to steamed fish.
It's very often finished with with lime or lemon which makes it super, super bright and light and just delicious.
♪♪ ♪♪ The next dish is what we call Nem Nooung Khaunh Hooa.
-This is a pork paste with green plantain, green mango, cucumbers, and some pickled vegetables.
And this is almost like a do-it-yourself wrap with the rice paper, and dip it in the water -to soften up the rice paper.
You don't want to soak it too long.
-Too long, right.
-It's going to be too soft.
Just lightly soak, and you can take it out right away.
♪♪ -When you're hosting a party... -Yeah.
...of course, you want to keep everybody entertained.
This is a very good way of entertaining, using food.
-It's so clean.
-Mm-hmm, and it's fun.
Do you remember that day of leaving, or were you too young?
Came over when I was 5 years old.
Thought I was going on a vacation.
-Exactly, you know?
It's, like, you're 5 years old.
You don't think -- -Yeah, yeah, yeah.
-You know, you don't think -something is wrong.
-No, of course.
And my dad was very particular about it.
He's just like, "Just get on my back," and I remember riding my dad's back running to the boat.
And then once I got on the boat, it was, like, so crowded.
-And we had limited food.
My mom was pregnant, sister was sick.
-And she's like, "You were the only one that was just full of energy."
-You're going on vacation.
-I was on vacation, you know, and it's been a very -- -It's a 43-year vacation now.
You know, other politicians might have more money in their district, but no one has better food.
-This is a tourist destination.
I'm going to start that as one of my -- -Yeah.
-Describing my district, -a very delicious district.
♪♪ Samuelsson: I think as a refugee or as an immigrant, you learn not to rely on anything or anybody else.
You always have to figure it out yourself.
So the Vietnamese in New Orleans started as a pretty insular community.
"We stick together.
We work together."
By the year 2000, it's about 6,000 to 7,000 Vietnamese-Americans in New Orleans East, all within about a 1-mile radius, so that's one of the densest concentrations of Vietnamese-Americans in the country.
They sort of live on the geographic outskirts of New Orleans.
They're not really interested in assimilating to the city.
But after Katrina, that all changes very dramatically and very quickly.
Katrina hits in late August of 2005.
By December of that year, hundreds of Vietnamese-Americans have returned.
A couple years later, 90% of the community has returned.
They exemplify the best of the city, people who can actually lead the way in post-Katrina reconstruction.
♪♪ Palmer: The Vietnamese community, when they moved into African-American communities, there was a level of mistrust between each other, But post-Katrina, it became a relationship where we have to rebuild together.
You have to rebuild schools.
Your children need to go to school, you know?
You need a house.
We still need to grow food.
We still need to feed our communities.
After Katrina, a lot of black churches were damaged in the east.
The Vietnamese opened up the door for black Catholics to worship, you know, and that does bring people together, which is, I think, the story of New Orleans, right?
♪♪ Samuelsson: The Vietnamese community in New Orleans, through their incredible hospitality, they have been able to set up tons of great Vietnamese restaurants in the city that work as the bridge to bring the locals together with the immigrant community.
One of my favorites is Manchu.
Manchu is on the border of Treme and the Seventh Ward, so it's really in the center of this iconic Creole and African-American community, right in the heart of New Orleans.
♪♪ Woman: I need number 54!
Manchu is a staple in the community here.
Yeah, we'll take your order right here.
You think you're going to the corner store, but you're not.
You're going basically to a takeout restaurant that is incredible.
-Number two, number two.
What is this place?
I love it.
People on top of each other.
The whole community's in there.
[ Man speaks indistinctly ] Anyone need order?
People come from all over the city.
You can't describe it.
So, John and Hieu are cousins.
John is a super cool guy.
You have John's dad behind the counter.
-You're busy today, huh?
-A little bit.
Oh, what have we got?
Chicken wings are literally just flying out -- fried chicken wings, chicken wings with barbecue sauce, and yakamein, this incredible chicken noodle soup.
What's the best thing to get, the wings and the yakamein?
Wings and yakamein, you can't go wrong.
How long have you been going to this store?
There's dishes, and there's nuances in that place that can only be from the Vietnamese and African-American community working together, and you see it, and you feel it, and you taste it in the food.
How long has this store been open?
Oh, through 26 years at this point.
-So it's older than you?
-Oh, it's way older.
-It's definitely older than me.
We just originally opened up to serve the community around here, and, honestly, my parents, when they created the recipe for the chicken, like, they really didn't think it was going to become intense like this.
And it's popular.
To this day, we can't believe it's popular, you know?
Than: The neighborhood really looks out for this place, when where a lot of these people have had their grandparents come here or, like, their parents, and they were kids growing up coming here, and they still come back.
-I have people who come here every single day of the week.
-You get some chicken.
Chicken, definitely, and the wings, right?
John: Oh, look.
You can tell he's a local.
-He eats right in at the window.
-Eat right at the window.
I'm not waiting.
[ Indistinct conversations, laughter ] -All right, guys.
♪♪ -This is a good lunch table.
-It's a New Orleans lunch table.
-Get on in, man.
-Ooh, this looks good.
-Yeah, man, like -- -Mm.
[ Speaks indistinctly ] Coming up, as a kid, you guys coming up...
...you worked a lot in the store, I assume?
My father, actually, he was born and raised over in Vietnam, and he didn't have too much time for school, so, you know, he started from a really young age, and starting over here, too, you know, with his own kids, my siblings and I, he got us into the flow early on.
That first generation just hustled and hustled and hustled so that their kids can pursue, you know, -financially secure dreams.
I'm sure leaving one place postwar and also for religious freedom -- You know, you trade that coming to America, and then it can be racial tension or poverty.
It's just so many different hurdles that you got to overcome.
Because we have only been here for, what, four decades... -Yeah.
-...Vietnamese people, that is, these minority communities try their best to not make waves because we're trying -to just thrive.
-Just head down, keep working, -sticking together.
You don't scream out loud when you're just paying your bills, you know?
You're paying your bills in silence, and you send your kids to school in silence, you know?
-And when they graduate, you know, you hope that you can make it there, and you're not stuck at work because that's what your business demands of you.
Any community who has come here from a harder place, -this is paradise, you know?
To have the opportunity to not only open a business but own something, and in the due process, you're contributing back to the very country that took you in.
What's Vietnamese about Manchu?
It's just the flavor profile.
Growing up Vietnamese, and especially in this city, I don't think I've ever been privy -to bland food before.
You know, so everything that you try here, it's just sort of a kick to the taste buds.
What do you think it is about this city?
Because it doesn't really matter whether it's Vietnamese food or the food of New Orleans, it's always flavorful.
It's always delicious.
It's always pushing for bringing in different types of culture.
Like, what do you think?
Is it in the water?
-What do you think it is?
-It is in the water.
We drink a lot.
[ Laughter ] Yeah.
It's a city where we really just revel in the little joys, you know?
Because there's just so many communities here that are very low-income.
The luxuries that you do have are just very tiny and short.
Samuelsson: I think the story of the Vietnamese community in New Orleans is the story of two tales.
One, the Vietnamese community staying strong, sticking together, to carve out this place that is theirs.
The other tale is also how open-minded the city of New Orleans were to a new taste, a new culture.
Historically, the city has always done that, whether it was through the French, Spanish, or the Africans.
It's a richer culture for it, and it proves why it's such an iconic American city.
♪♪ It's good for the city to have all these different cultures and these different tastes come together.
Creole is just a mixture of things.
Maybe Spanish and French, who knows, but a whole lot of African.
♪♪ When you can work together through food, it's a wonderful thing.
Ms. Leah Chase is an icon in not just an American food scene but also to the city of New Orleans.
Dooky Chase is one of the first integrated restaurant in America.
The word "restaurant" means to restore your community.
And when you look at Dooky Chase, they have really taken that idea and manifested it.
♪♪ ♪♪ -What's up, Chef?
How are you?
How are you?
-Oh, thank you.
-How are you?
Don't you look great?
-I love it.
-I had to dress up for you.
-You look just fine.
-How you feeling?
-I feel fine.
-I feel fine.
So, I wanted to ask you, the grandame of Creole cooking, like, how has food changed since you started?
Oh, now it's a mixture.
-We have Creole.
-We have Cajun.
-Cajun, of course.
-We have Asian food coming.
Now we're beginning to have a lot of Mexican restaurants.
-All kinds of restaurants we have now.
We've got France.
We got Haiti.
-We got Africa.
We got Spain.
-We got a mixture of everything.
We got everything, and shake it all up.
Now we got Creole.
-Yes, of course.
-We got Creole.
And the Vietnamese have come in.
I know it's hard to come from your home not knowing where you're going or what you're going to do, and you have to make a life for yourself... -Sure.
-...altogether different than when you were brought up.
That is hard to do.
They can bake.
Oh, they can bake.
They bake the best bread there is.
-I like that pho.
-That broth that -- -That pho, yes, indeed.
So what I'm trying to do is learn about their greens.
I know how to work with their lemongrass, but if I learn to work with their different kinds of greens and mix them together and get those flavors, it's a different kind of thing, but it's good.
I'll Creolize it all.
[ Laughs ] ♪♪ Creolizing for us, in this city, essentially means, "I'm going to make it taste how I want to make it based on my palate that I'm used to."
The Vietnamese are Creole, as well, in their own way, you know?
They were a French colony, just like us.
You think about something like a banh mi, French baguette, French liver pâté combined with the Vietnamese fish sauce and bright vinaigrettes and so on.
You think about pho, almost a traditional French beef broth with Vietnamese rice noodles, so this link between France, New Orleans, Cajun, Creole, and the Vietnamese community is everywhere.
♪♪ My name is Con Tran.
Together with my husband, David, we opened up Pho NOLA eight years ago.
David: Well, a lot of Vietnamese food is influenced by the French.
The French does it.
We does it, too.
Con: Pho really started when the French were colonists in Vietnam.
They would get the good pieces of steak, and then the scraps and bones were left to the local chefs, so they made the pho broth out of it.
David: I use knuckle bone.
It's little bit more expensive, but it got, like, little fat meat trimming around it.
It releases more flavor to the broth.
I cook it for like 9, 10 hours.
Con: When you do it overnight, it actually deteriorates.
That's where the sweetness comes in and the meatiness.
A lot of restaurant, they dilute it too much.
They add too much water so they can get more money out of it.
Mine is very potent.
When I take the pho out in the morning, in the cooler, it should look like Jell-O.
That's how you know it's potent.
After that, add your spice, ginger, onion, anise star, clove.
That's when we "season" the broth with the "secret ingredient."
David: Me, I put in a cinnamon stick.
I dip the rice, to blanch it, get it soft, put it in a bowl, add my whatever, like brisket, my rare steak, my scallion onions, cilantro, put the broth in.
You got to come out piping out.
When you're serving it to the table, and when they mix up the rare steak, that's when it gets cooked.
Taste it before you add all your sriracha and your hoisin sauce.
My place, you really don't need none of that.
It's already good.
I add my bean sprout, my basil, my cilantro.
I squeeze my lime, my jalapeño, and mix it up and eat it.
♪♪ Samuelsson: You constantly see proofs of the Vietnamese community being strong together, collective in entrepreneurship, in businesses they have created, whether it's a restaurant or through shrimping.
And look at how resilient and how strong they are post-Katrina, but then also when the BP oil spill happens in 2010.
The BP oil spill hit the Vietnamese community especially hard.
They have to abandon their livelihood as shrimpers and fishermen and find a new living all of a sudden.
♪♪ [ Speaking Vietnamese ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ What do we got here?
We got some root vegetables?
-Yeah, some kohlrabi... -Nice.
-...doing pretty well right now.
Mustard greens, too, and some beets -growing over there, as well.
Samuelsson: Khai is this incredible community organizer.
He built this farm, Veggi, right after the BP oil spill for the elder Vietnamese community to grow vegetables, lettuce, herbs.
And this was something that they knew how to do from back in the days in the old country, in Vietnam.
♪♪ New Orleans is very hot, too, so similar climate, right?
In 2010, the BP oil spill happened, and then, so, we had a lot of people that were involved in the seafood industry.
We were trying to figure out a way, how do we help these people, you know, who had lost their livelihoods overnight, basically?
And so we were like, "Okay, a lot of people are passionate about farming."
If you pass by any house in this community, if it's Vietnamese-owned, like, they'll be using any part of their land in the front yard, backyard, to be growing something.
[ Conversing in Vietnamese ] Okay.
♪♪ -Turnip, turnip.
The kohlrabi looks good, too.
Khai: Right now, the temperature now is, like, it's perfect for them.
-And we have some cilantro.
[ Conversing in Vietnamese ] It's good.
Who do you ship this to?
So, we sell our produce to about 20 different restaurants in the city.
Once you had the idea, then you had to sort of convert that into business, how did you approach a restaurant, -and were they open to that?
The chefs are very, from our experience, all very warm and welcoming.
As long as you have the goods, you know?
Hey, if the product is better and the pricing is affordable, chefs will always want to support it locally.
For sure, and the other thing that they really like is, our farmers, like, they are very meticulous about making it very presentable, so that's one of the things that we -- Take pride in your product.
Yeah, we get commended on.
The knowledge, the skills, the farmers are the ones that have it, and we just try to help them get into the restaurants, to the markets.
-See, I told her, she has -- -Oh, nice.
-She's bringing out the goods.
-So, she and her husband were big-time pepper farmers, -black pepper.
-Vietnam, yeah, in Vietnam.
-[ Speaks Vietnamese ] -Oh, my God.
-Thank you very much.
-[ Speaks Vietnamese ] -Thank you.
[ Speaks Vietnamese, laughs ] Samuelsson: Not only is it a business, but it's also a business that brings your community together and links it with the city -so it's not isolated.
Khai: And I think in the last 10, 15 years or so, the Vietnamese community has definitely been more and more acknowledged and recognized...
...beyond just the Vietnamese restaurants.
♪♪ Samuelsson: The farmers grow such incredible stuff, but they need an outlet.
They need to sell it in a modern way.
So what Khai has really created is a platform and a bridge from what his farmers grows to what these modern restaurants need.
I mean, the chefs, they're super excited about what Khai and Veggi really stands for, right, because they get access to the best ingredients in the height of season, and to a very affordable price.
It's a perfect ecosystem that works for both sides.
It's really a win-win.
Brigtsen: Khai came to Brigtsen's Restaurant and other restaurants in the area to ask for support.
Well, the products are so beautiful, we've become partners and friends ever since.
My name is Frank Brigtsen, and we're here at Brigtsen's Restaurant here in the Riverbend neighborhood of New Orleans.
The majority of the harvest that we get from Veggi co-op is salad greens, which are beautiful, a dozen kinds of baby lettuces, really fresh, literally picked that day or the day before, fresh herbs, unusual ingredients like turmeric root, which I'm still experimenting with, and also a very unusual squash called a cucuzza.
Here is a vegetable that doesn't appear that many places in the world, but it does in Louisiana and Vietnam, and so we've taken it and crossed it over a couple of times to create a stuffed cucuzza with Italian sausage, and if there's ever a Creole dish, this is it.
♪♪ Creole is the original fusion cuisine.
It's not just one way of doing things.
It's a lot of ways of building flavor, layer upon layer upon layer.
One of the major outcomes of Katrina and the recovery of the city of New Orleans was very few of these newer restaurants are what I would consider classic Creole.
So now there's numerous Vietnamese restaurants, Latin restaurants, all kinds, young chefs, ambitious, following their dreams, and I think that's a very healthy thing.
I think, from a generational perspective, they are the new New Orleans, the new Creole.
♪♪ I'm Peter Nguyen, and right now, we're at Banh Mi Boys in Metairie, Louisiana.
♪♪ Banh Mi Boys is a combination of both Vietnamese banh mi and also New Orleans po'boys, which is a classic sandwich here in New Orleans.
♪♪ I've been working here since I was 11.
In my time off, I like to either travel, eat, or go thrill-seeking.
I just like to really kind of live it up.
I'm an adrenaline junkie, so I like to go do things that gets me all hyped up.
Samuelsson: Peter is this super fun guy, and he worked really, really hard, like most Vietnamese immigrants, right, at a really young age.
So, you know, he's just making up for lost time.
Go-karting, I don't know anything about it.
I've never tried it, but Peter says this is how he relax and have fun.
I'm going to go with Peter.
♪♪ I actually happened to love it.
It was addicting.
It was quite dangerous, though, because it was raining.
-That was a lot of fun.
-It was intense.
It was wet and difficult, but it was cool.
It was a lot of fun.
What do we got here?
That right there is kind of like a hybrid.
This is going to be the po'boy, but it's going to have a Vietnamese steak on it which is banh mi, which is -- I was kind of thinking about that.
-"I'm sure he's going to do his banh mi twist on this, right?"
I call it, like, like an Asian Philly.
-It's thinly sliced steaks with caramelized onions, a Vietnamese spread, and a pate.
-So I've combined all that into a sandwich.
This is delicious.
When you taste Peter's food, he's done something that is really gutsy.
He's taking some of the most iconic sandwiches in the world -- po'boy meets banh mi.
Wherever you go in New Orleans, po'boy is the sandwich that you find everywhere.
Different versions -- deep-fried oyster or deep-fried shrimp, sometimes with dressing, sometimes not.
♪♪ But Peter's really Creolizing it with banh mi.
Cucumber, carrots, cilantro, lime, but also a little bit of heat, so it's something heavy on the bottom, but then it gets bright.
It's so delicious.
What you got over there?
Why you saving the best part?
Wait, wait, wait.
Whoa, whoa, whoa.
What's going on over here?
I put Louisiana gulf fried shrimp inside it.
-This is delicious.
This is -- Ah.
This is [Grunts] We had a gas station.
We decided to do a restaurant next to it.
My parents wanted to do po'boys.
And I was like, "That's not going to work.
Let's do po'boys and banh mi."
I want to do the true traditional of both sides, but then people wanted to cross each other, so people wanted to have, like, fried shrimp on the banh mi, -fried oysters on a banh mi.
Then they started switching things up, and it just created some whole new thing that people liked.
-It's really fully integrated.
It's really cool.
You were born here.
-You're first-generation, huh?
My dad was, like, working the gas station.
My mom was working nail salons, and they were kind of, like, trying to build -themselves up in the community.
I remember he told me, like, 10 years, he's going to focus, and he's going to own his gas station, and it actually came true.
He worked hard towards it.
That must have given you the inspiration to be able to do the same.
Yeah, I looked up to my dad all my life.
He's, like, a true hustler to me, and he taught me everything I needed to know.
Where do you think the culture and the food scene is in 10 years from now?
I think it's just gonna be more evolving.
It's like, more new flavors.
That's what people are chasing every year... -Yeah.
-...new techniques and all that good stuff.
Not only I'm excited about what the first generation of Vietnamese-American have added to the city, but when you meet people like Peter, you know that the next generation's going to eat very, very well.
It will be funky but delicious, and I'm excited to taste it and see it.
♪♪ Le: Drip Affogato Bar is a dessert shop bringing together ice cream and really great craft coffee.
♪♪ My name is Juley Le, and I'm the founder of Drip Affogato Bar.
In Italian, affogato means "to drown."
In Italy, you'll find people pouring a lot of espresso over their gelato.
We kind of take a different approach, and we pair really great craft ice cream with toppings and pair it with different shots besides espresso.
We also have matcha, different coffees, and teas.
♪♪ Growing up, I'd always see my dad start his mornings with his Vietnamese coffee, traditionally made with New Orleans' own Cafe Du Monde coffee and a very specific brand of condensed milk for that really beautiful flavor.
♪♪ We've kind of reinterpreted it for the modern coffee drinker, and it's, like, this creamy, luxurious, delicious drink.
We are creating kind of our own version of the American dream, learning from our parents and then applying those different methods to our modern business ideas.
That's the kind of inspiration that's definitely going to stay with me as I keep developing businesses.
♪♪ Samuelsson: St. Roch is this legendary open-air market.
It was built in the 1870s, and it was nearly destroyed by Katrina, like so many other things, but is now being rebuilt as a food hall.
And you have all these young, cool entrepreneurs setting up shop.
You have a Haitian stand.
You have a vegan stand, and then you have Tung.
-[ Laughs ] -[ Speaks indistinctly ] Tung: This market's about bringing the melting pot of New Orleans here.
-There's different cultures.
-You got from Mexican.
You have some guys from New York making, like, -a Jewish deli sort of deal.
So, Tung, how long have you been cooking?
I've been cooking since I was a teenager, 15, 16.
I mean, I watched my mom cook in the kitchen.
I was just like, "You know what?
I just got to pay attention real quick."
Tung is this really energetic chef that is super proud of his heritage.
He opened T2 with the help of his parents.
It's really inspired by global street food with a Vietnamese twist.
You will find roti, taco, his version of banh mis and pho, but it's truly Tung's own version of global street food.
What do we got?
What do we got?
So, we got a little play on some tacos.
You're doing roti -with some smoked pulled pork.
I used pickled carrots, bread-and-butter pickles, and then a Creole mustard aioli on top of that.
Got a little pastrami over here.
-Oh, this looks good.
And the pastrami, that takes a long time to get right.
And then on this plate over here, we have a hot sausage made by Patton.
It's a local meat company, and also the same smoked pulled pork, with a little ponzu and sriracha aioli on top of that.
Wow, so we have Caribbean over here, a little Jewish food over here... Yeah.
...and then we're going back to banh.
We're going back to China over here.
This doesn't look Vietnamese to me.
What's going on?
You know, it's just what I was raised on.
-I mean, I'm over here in America.
Growing up in New Orleans, you got so many different cultures and stuff like that.
Being second-generation, you're always torn between two cultures.
-Are you American enough?
Are you Vietnamese enough?
-How was that coming up?
When I was growing up, I couldn't bring food like this to school.
Like, I wanted -- It would smell like that kimchi smell.
I love that.
I love that.
But now it's the norm.
It's just, like, everyone is accepting all of these different cultures and stuff like that, which is great.
But as a child, I just felt, like, out of place.
Finding your identity, it's not easy for anybody growing up.
My parents came over here and gave us a great opportunity to do -what we got to do, you know?
And it's their sacrifice coming over here that just gave us the opportunity to be successful.
I mean, I'm very fortunate to have that support.
You got some of your mom's cooking?
Is your mom's pho on the menu yet?
Absolutely, it's on the menu.
That was the first thing I put on there.
My parents, they're very influential on myself and my siblings, so I want their -- to have something here.
Just express, like, this is what I was raised up on.
-I had this nice bowl of pho, and I was like, "That has to be the number-one thing."
My mom has a composition book with all her recipes... -Yeah.
-...but does not tell us a single thing... -Yeah, yeah.
...because she wants us to go back home -and watch her cook.
-What can you say?
There's definitely an emotional bond between the younger and the older generation.
But like any young generation, people want to break free and want to do their own thing.
And then there's this incredible fun dialogue back and forth between what is Vietnamese, what is Vietnamese-American, but also, in the younger Vietnamese community, that really identify first as New Orleanians.
♪♪ ♪♪ My name is Linh Garza, and we are at Dong Phuong Bakery.
This is my family's business, and we've been here since 1982.
I would consider our bakery Vietnamese-New Orleans.
Definitely New Orleans has put its mark on us.
It definitely has both cultures ingrained into our DNA.
Our two most popular orders for us is our French bread and our king cakes.
♪♪ My family, when we immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam, we settled in this neighborhood.
We were probably the first bakery in this neighborhood in New Orleans East.
We started serving the Vietnamese community.
And once my father developed the French bread recipe, we were able to expand our market to different demographics around the city.
And our king cake is definitely another crossover product for us.
♪♪ We started making king cakes in 2008.
We made about 100 box the whole year.
This year, we are pushing close to 40,000.
King cake starts off with a sweet dough.
Then we roll in some cinnamon, some sugar, our sauce.
♪♪ Then we topped it with a nice cream cheese icing, sprinkle the Mardi Gras color, purple, green, and yellow, on the king cakes.
During Mardi Gras season, people are lining up all the way out to the street, actually, in the mornings for king cakes.
It's 11:00, and they are sold out.
Garza: King cakes, food, parties, parades, beads -- It's just a whole month of crazy craziness.
♪♪ Samuelsson: So, Tung invited me to his home.
We're going to celebrate Tet.
♪♪ [ Laughs ] Tet is the biggest holiday in the Vietnamese community.
You celebrate New Year but also spring.
It brings together the older generation and the younger.
-How are you?
-So, this is my mom.
-How are you?
And this is my dad.
So, we're at Tung's sister's house, and her whole family's incredible, all 26 of them.
I think there's 12 kids, grandkids, nephews, nieces, grandma, aunties.
People young, old, people everywhere.
Tung's dad is walking around like the master of ceremony, giving money to the kids.
There's gambling in the corner over here.
The object of the game, they got three dice in there.
-And all you do is, you want to bet on what you think the dice will come out.
[ Indistinct shouting ] Two!
[ All screaming ] -Oh, you lost!
[ Laughs ] -Ah.
-Oh, thank you.
Everything is absolutely fantastic and colorful, but for me, what gets me excited is the food.
Can we talk about the food?
The food is amazing.
[ Indistinct conversations ] We're cutting it on the table now.
-Oh, that looks good!
This is one of my favorite dishes my mom makes, -the braised pork belly.
-And you add the red rice?
A little sweet, and you can pair it with bologna, ham.
And then it goes, like, a sweet and savory.
So the red means lucky, prosperity, all that.
Yes, it does.
This looks fantastic.
Samuelsson: The techniques that they're using is more like a three-star Michelin chef done with some Vietnamese ingredients.
Mom, what are we cooking?
-What have we got?
-Oh, I cook meat.
So she shows me how to do Vietnamese egg rolls.
It's pork and shrimp.
I can mix it.
-And then taro.
-And then you know the taro.
-This is taro root.
-Yes, taro root.
Wow, you put the taro root inside.
-Can I mix?
Woman: She's very hard-core about using fresh ingredients.
-She shreds her own carrots, shreds her own taro.
-She does really well.
-When you came in the '70s, where did you get the Vietnamese ingredients from?
Actually, they grew a lot of stuff in their -- -They grew it?
-In their garden.
And what's your favorite non-Vietnamese dish?
[ Laughter ] I'm trying to help out.
I know how to do spring rolls...
-Too much, too much, too much.
-In her, like, sinuses.
-More like here, -little bit, okay?
But of course, I have no clue.
I get moved aside, pushed aside.
-No, no, no, no, no.
-Oh, you messing up.
One more, one more time, okay?
One, and then we fold it in?
[ Laughter ] She's a very good teacher.
Who taught you the traditional recipes?
Was it your parents, your mom?
-[ Speaks Vietnamese ] -Her dad.
-Oh, your father.
Tung's family, they are very proud about their heritage and the home country, but, hey, we're in America right now.
We are in the new country.
The kids, the grandkids are Americanized.
This smells great.
A little mushroom, Brussels.
Tung: Oranges, lemons, onions, celery, some garlic, butter.
So, basically, there's no Vietnamese flavor in this at all, right?
-It's just something down here on the bayou that I like.
I enjoy it.
[ Coughs ] -[ Laughs ] I like that, a little heat.
-I want crawfish.
You want a crawfish?
This is hot.
-Just a little bit.
Yeah, there you go, 'cause it can be -- You like it?
Ow, that's hot!
[ Laughter ] Ah, it looks good!
I love how you guys have both sort of super-American New Orleans tradition, -but also your own.
Like, it's not either-or.
I mean, we live in America.
-We live in the Southeast, Louisiana, and this is what -- We're here.
I was raised up on crawfish and stuff.
-Like -- [ Laughs ] Tung is trying to find his groove.
Where does he fit in to all of this?
He's a chef.
He's putting his stamp on it.
But when you see his family and the tradition, it's like, "Tung, the good stuff is Mom's stuff.
It's really, really good!"
This is for a 12-hour cook.
Is this traditional for a New Year's Eve dish... Yeah.
...or you eat it all year round?
-No, just New Year's.
-Just for New Year's.
-New Year's strictly.
-I'm going to eat all this food I've never had before.
This is awesome.
[ Laughs ] Banh chung is something I've never had before.
First, right there, I'm excited, right?
This is a terrine.
It's pork, bone-in and everything, that you wrap in banana leaves.
You simmer it to 10 to 12 hours.
You let it sit in this liquid overnight...
...and then you cut it with a string.
And that's how she cut it?
-That's how she cuts it.
That's so cool.
I'm in awe of this whole process.
Tung: You want to try?
[ Laughing ] ♪♪ There you go!
-[ Laughs ] Yes!
Tet fest, it's also a celebration of success, success of keeping the family together.
And it get expressed in so many different ways -- through the love of food, through dinners and breaking bread together...
Whole family, come over.
...where stories from the grandparents and the parents are told to the younger generation, always remembering Vietnam and the ancestors there.
[ Speaking Vietnamese ] We're here all together as a family.
Please continue to guide us into the right direction and with a special family bond that no one can take away.
-Happy New Year.
-Chúc mung nam moi.
-Chúc mung nam moi.
Happy New Year.
-Happy New Year.
-Happy New Year.
-Happy New Year.
-Happy New Year.
-Let's dig in.
-I'm going to go right here.
-I'm going -- Yeah.
-Some banh chung, awesome.
So we share that with the honey.
-It's with honey, ginger.
-There you go.
-You're a natural.
-[ Laughs ] -Yeah, yeah, yeah.
♪♪ It's fantastic.
A lot of sort of French technique with the terrines and all of that stuff.
-Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
-But the -- That's where the influence gets it.
But then also a lot of sort of undertones -of Chinese cooking... -Yep.
...but then lighter, much brighter.
-We're talking about pâtés, terrines, things that takes hours to make.
I'm in heaven.
I'm super excited, but what is this?
Woman: It's pickled ham.
And it has pork skin in there, also, too.
There's, like, a pepper in there.
-You might bite into it.
-Oh, you're telling me now?
Everybody has a different technique for cooking, you know?
Whereas, if you go to the restaurant, you have your standard pho and all that stuff, but -- -Sure, sure, sure.
-It's like the hit list.
-The banh mi.
-But if you go into someone's home, you know, that's where, like, the heart is.
This is essentially a love story, right, between Tung's father and mother that came to New Orleans in the mid-'70s and created their new home where they all worked really, really hard.
It's today an American success story that started somewhere in the outskirts of Saigon.
My dad's family's originally from the north.
They escaped the Communists from the north and came to the south, and they adapted to the south.
It's such a rich, tough story.
-You -- First, you migrate.
Then you have to emigrate, but you've been longer in America now than you've been in Vietnam, right?
♪♪ Yeah, who are you, right.
They kept the Vietnamese culture and the American culture.
I love that.
I mean, as immigrants, very often, we're more patriotic than Americans because we're very excited and happy -to be here and grateful, so... -Yeah.
♪♪ [ Laughter ] It's okay.
You can like two things.
-That's all right.
Samuelsson: Being an immigrant, you constantly are thinking about the new country, which you want to sort of always embrace and are so proud and excited about being part of.
-So we're going to start.
And at the same time, when you miss your country, you think about the culture aspect, and you think about food.
I like the butter.
He added butter to it.
[ Indistinct conversations ] Tung's father asked this important question -- Who are we?
Are we Americans?
Are we Vietnamese?
At what point do we become American?
And I love the fact that Tung's father really speaks of this, because although his grandkids are really, really young, this is a way to ensure that they never forget where they came from.
-Happy New Year!
-Happy New Year!
[ Crowd cheering, music playing ] It was amazing to be in New Orleans during Mardi Gras... -This is his first Mardi Gras.
...but also to see it through the lens of the Vietnamese community.
I think this question of who we are in terms of identity and when we become something else, it's a lifelong journey and quest that I ask myself very often.
Nice to meet your, sir.
Am I Ethiopian?
Am I Swedish?
Am I American or a New Yorker?
Can I be all four of those things?
I have deep love and passions for all my culture.
The Vietnamese community, like, it was separate, and, like, no one knew about it, but now, second-generation Vietnamese restaurants are now able to, like, experiment a little bit, you know?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
They're doing different things.
It's inspiring to me to look at the younger Vietnamese community that constantly ask themselves these questions, and with that, they say, "Hey, we have to create something great for ourselves but also that represents our family."
-There's so much to be proud of.
American people come into the restaurant business -from all walks of life.
They're doing it, and he's doing it.
If we're the bridge, we're the bridge, right?
We're the bridge, yeah.
How do we say, "Good cheers," in Vietnamese?
-One, two, three, vô.
That's the best cheers ever.
-That was awesome.
♪♪ ♪♪ Next time on "No Passport Required"... Oh, my God!
This is like a 3-star Michelin district.
Samuelsson: I'm always, always, always excited to go to Chicago to eat Mexican food.
Man: I came here in the winter, culture was different, definitely.
You know, Chicago was rough.
It takes a lot of heart, a lot of corazón, to do what you guys do.
[ Cheering ] There's an emerging food movement that is really creating dishes at the highest level.
You're basically a South Side girl, that's it.
No, that's not it.
I'm a creative, creative person.
[ Laughs ] -So Cyndi's not your first name right?
Wha-what's was your first given name?
What's your name?
-So my given name is Swan.
So, X-U-A-N. Why did you change to Cyndi?
I grew up idolizing Cyndi Lauper.
-She is like the diggity bomb.
Cyndi Lauper has always been firm on who she is.
-You know, when I was going through the naturalization process... -Yes.
-...I took advantage of it and named myself Cyndi and I spelled my name exactly the way... -I love it.
-...same way as Cyndi Lauper.
-I love it.