Việt Nam News talks to Executive Sous Chef of VACS Nguyễn Thanh Vũ and Hải Âu Aviation's pilot Nguyễn Bá Hải.
Executive Sous Chef of VACS Nguyễn Thanh Vũ
I have been with Vietnam Aviation Cartering Services (VACS) for 23 years, where my daily joy comes not only from research, creation and processing of delicious food, but also from teaching and imparting knowledge to students.
The cook is often short-tempered with a strong personality because of the nature of work. An excellent chef must have his own nuances and opinions, always protecting the dishes he creates. When working with colleagues, I often select good words to contribute food ideas and share experiences with them. I developed a clear but gentle and harmonious discipline so that everyone listens to each other.
The biggest difficulty for me is to control the input materials to ensure quality. To solve this problem, my colleagues and I usually discuss and make choices before negotiating with suppliers. The main goal is to ensure the correct menu as well as nutritional ingredients, while keeping the price affordable. With my creation and experience, I will create attractive and valuable dishes with delicious flavours to satisfy customers.
To convey the Vietnamese culinary soul to both domestic and international guests, I create frugal, high-fiber and low-fat dishes. Spicy flavours should not be mixed into dishes, but separated so that diners can add to their taste. The soul of Vietnamese food often lies in various types of sauces. Thailand also uses fish sauce, but Vietnamese fish sauce has a lot of flavours, from North to South, each area has different ways of mixing, each style has its own unique taste.
Chefs are like artists. Chefs need to have emotions when cooking. The systems of formulas, processes and standards are set to help control about 80 per cent of the quality, while the remaining 20 per cent is due to the "fire watch" of each chef. It must be fun to have more interest in doing the job, but just cooking without feeling is very quickly boring.
Despite having nearly 30 years of experience and being one of the main people responsible for 25,000 aviation meals every day, I still keep track of customer feedback after each flight. With each year passed, everything went smoothly, I am very happy.
Hải Âu Aviation's pilot Nguyễn Bá Hải.
Flying to Hạ Long Bay is like flying into a beautiful painting where you are surrounded by blue sky and the green water of the bay.
At 34-years-old I switched careers from a diplomat, to a bush pilot and nobody at the time believed I could do it.
Now, six years later, I am still flying with Hải Âu Aviation, the first and only seaplane service in Việt Nam and after six years and I am one of the first Vietnamese commercial seaplane pilots.
I tried to follow my dreams after high school, but the time wasn’t right and I failed to become a pilot so instead took a job with the Government.
But in my heart of hearts I knew more than anything else, I wanted to fly.
At that point I took a chance and moved to France for two years to gain my aviation qualifications, finally my dreams were in my sights.
In 2014 I returned home and was fortunate enough to get a position with Hải Âu Aviation when they opened their seaplane service. It was all I had wanted to be, so when the job offer came I jumped at the chance.
I spent three years as a first officer moving up to captain.
I have spent more than 2,000 hours flying and each day I make six trips between Hà Nội and Hạ Long.
To the passengers, I’m sure they don’t really see that big a difference between flying a seaplane opposed to a regular plane, but for me, the difference is huge.
Landing on the water feels more free. There is no one there to prepare the landing site for you. Often you could come across boats, or even small canoes.
At that point you have to make split second decisions to change your landing spot.
Runways are made of concrete, they are stable, secure, but when you land on the water it is a whole different ball game. Conditions can change at the drop of a hat, winds, waves, all have to be taken into consideration.
It is challenging but rewarded.
Ha Long Bay is regarded the world over as one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and for me, I am blessed to be able to call this spectacular place my office.
Each day when I come in to land and I look out of the cockpit window, I just know that following my dreams was the best decision I ever made. — VNS