Date: 11-07-2019
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Author: Ha Duong - Thu Dung

Translator: Tuong Van

As a Chef and Judge, Mr. Ly Sanh is well-known to everyone in culinary profession in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam). Over 40 years of passion and attachment to the profession, he has successfully built a brand called "Hoan My Cuisine" and pioneered to build and develop "Saigon Professional Chef Guild" into one of the top prestigious organizations in Vietnam. Not only contributing to enhancing the position of chefs in the new era, he is also a key figure in promoting Vietnamese culinary culture to the world.


Mr. Ly Sanh was born in 1952 in Thu Dau Mot, Binh Duong Province in a family with an aptitude for food. His father is a good cook, who inherited the experience of cooking traditional Chaozhou dishes from Mr. Sanh’s grandfather. His mother is also passionate about and skillful at making cakes.

He himself, from childhood, was very passionate about food. At the age of 17, in order to avoid taking part in military service, he was taken down to Saigon by his relatives to remake other identity papers. Then he worked as a commis at a restaurant in Cho Lon (Chinatown Market). After working and learning hard in many restaurants for 6 years, he has accumulated a large amount of experience in food processing as well as catering industry.

In 1975, after the reunification of Vietnam, he returned to Binh Duong to participate in local work; food and drink service, and youth union. Thanks to his good cooking, he was always assigned to cook for gala dinners, year-end parties and wedding parties of his friends and relatives, etc. In spite of tough economic times, he cooked for free and was very happy when everyone gave good compliments. Then, he was getting more and more inspired by the idea of running catering business, which made him more enthusiastic to concentrate on the kitchen profession.

Not only actively working, learning and cultivating practical cooking experience, he also diligently consulted cookbooks to increase knowledge from his favorite cookbook authors such as Mrs. Quoc Viet, Mrs. Thanh Huong, Mrs. Trieu Thi Choi, etc. On March 8, 1986 – The happy day, he married a woman who has the same passion for food - Ms. Pham Thi My. They were like two peas in a pod, joined hands to open a restaurant together in order to cater for family parties in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. In 1988, the advent of the economic growth, improving standards of living as well as the demands for luxurious parties became inevitable while there were a few cooking facilities available in the market. Thanks to the support and encouragement of many friends, the couple founded "Hoan My Catering Service" together to contribute a ‘culinary space’ to all people.

"At the time when I founded Hoan My Catering Service, in Saigon, there were a few wedding centers, so there was few people who could cook for the family parties. Parties at home were almost cooked by members of the family. Sometimes there were a few bad comments that made the other members unhappy. I had the advantage of being trusted by friends and acquaintances for cooking their parties and receiving a lot of compliments from them. So when opening the Hoan My Catering Service, it was supported to succeed in the first year”- said Chef Ly Sanh.

With business mindsets: "Honesty Creates Credibility ", "Low profit – Lots of customers", "Delicious food – Safe for health", etc, and advertising his brand by the meals he served to people, Hoan My Catering Service has been constantly developing. In 2014, with the support of his two children, Hoan My Catering Service was scaled up to become Hoan My Catering Company. “My two children might inherited the delicious food in the womb so they also love the culinary industry. The eldest son - Ly Kim Long went to study Hospitality at Les Roches International School in Switzerland. When returning to Vietnam, he has participated in some culinary associations, contributed to and improved the service quality of family-owned business, diversified dishes and developed Hoan My brand.

'My young daughter Ly Kim Ngan also strived to study for a master's degree Culinary Art at César Ritz Colleges in Switzerland. I strongly believe that they will follow their father's career, help Hoan My fly higher and higher' – said Chef Ly Sanh proudly.

In addition to the success of Hoan My brand, another happy thing is that the whole family goes to the kitchen. This is a worthy compensation for the couple who have built up their career with their health, heart and enthusiasm for half a life.


Through 40 years of passion and attachment to the kitchen profession, he has a great number of opportunities to learn and approach culinary cultures from many countries in Asia, Europe and America through trips and exchanges of international cuisine in order to promoting Vietnamese food. At the same time, he has also spent a lot of time devoting to the domestic cuisine industry as well as creating remarkable ‘track records’ in the career of elevating and developing professional kitchen.

In 2005, as the highly increasing trend in travel and tourism, the chef’s profession has been received better recognition in public. In combination with the permission of the Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Association, the enthusiastic support of the Deputy Director of the Department of Tourism (Mr. La Quoc Khanh) and Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association (Mr. Nguyen Huu Tho), Chef Ly Sanh and his colleagues such as Mr. Do Kieu Lan, Mr. Quach Thien Tuong, Mr. Norbert Ehrbar; Mrs. Bui Thi Suong, Mrs. Nguyen Thi Nguyen Trang, etc. together founded the Saigon Professional Chef Guild (SPC) - a member of Chi Minh City Tourism Association (Later, SPC became a member of the World Association of Chefs' Societies – WACS). SPC is a social organization of professional chefs, whose motto is to "Unite the chefs, work together for the development of professional kitchens; preserve, develop and promote Vietnamese culinary culture; mutually support, share cooking recipes and experiences in the chef’s profession; impart cooking skills to younger generation ”.

SPC creates not only useful playground; but also a place for exchanging knowledge and experiences among generations of chefs. SPC is also the pioneer in promoting and honoring Vietnamese Gastronomy. As a chairman of the Saigon Professional Chef Guild, during the past 12 years, Chef Ly Sanh has continuously contributed to building, developing and enhancing professional chef careers, of which the large-scale competition as ‘Golden Spoon’ is an exellent example to testify his great efforts.

At the same time, he also had the opportunities to participate in many culinary seminars and to introduce Vietnamese cuisine at Asian Chef Forums; World Chefs Without Borders (in San Francisco - California in 2010); International Culinary Seminars organized by the World Culinary Research Institute of Korea (2013, 2014), and a number of trips to Japan, China and to some Southeast Asian countries.

Over the past years, with constant efforts, he has teamed up with the initial members to promote Vietnamese cuisine by organizing annual culinary records in the ‘Taste of the World’ Festival. During 9 years with 9 festivals, he and his colleagues conducted 10 national culinary records, five of which were vegetable carvings and the most prominent of which was the record of 104 Traditional Vietnamese Salad Dishes. With this contribution, he was awarded the Golden Plate and Certificate by the World Records Union (WorldKings) to recognize the honor as "Head Chef Ly Sanh has created many Vietnam records of cuisine to promote the Vietnamese culinary culture to the world".

In addition, to acknowledging his active contributions to the kitchen profession and the Vietnamese Gastronomy, the Tourism Department, the Vietnam Tourism Association, and the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee also awarded him many Certificates of Merit and Certificates of Honor.

In July 2018, he resigned as chairman of SPC because of old age, but he still has full of passion for kitchen career. Besides advising the Saigon Professional Chefs’ Guild, he is willing to participating in many culinary organizations such as Vietnam Culinary Culture Association, Vietnam Book of Records (VietKings), Golden Kitchen Club, Vietnamese Master Chef Club, etc. Every day, he is still keen on creating new dishes, and takes good care of delicious dishes serving to customers. He also still supports and imparts knowledge as well as experience to young chefs in combination with introducing Vietnamese culinary culture to the international friends.

Chef Ly Sanh affirmed, “With the increasing pace of tourism development, the chefs create food for tourism, and the kitchen profession has an important position in modern society. As a profession that has brought wealth and happiness to my family, I believe that it also brings wealth and happiness to other chefs. I hope that the young chefs are willing to learn diligently and work hard to raise the traditional Vietnamese flavor to the world”./.


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