The term “family meal” takes on a different meaning for 2012 Hawaii Rising Star Chef Andrew Le. Born and raised in Honolulu to Vietnamese parents (his father from Hue, his mother from Hanoi, both having immigrated to Hawaii to escape the Vietnam War), Le had an American upbringing, but a strong connection to his Vietnamese heritage through his mother’s authentic food. Now working nearly every day with his parents and brother, Le is selling his family’s heritage for all to eat, exposing Honolulu diners not just to his take on Vietnamese staples pho and spring rolls, but also fragrant chicken salads, vegetarian stews, and French-inspired soups.
Le has been away from islands only briefly. He attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and after graduating in 2006 returned to Hawaii. He immediately landed a line cook job at the exemplary Chef Mavro under one of the original founders of modern Hawaiian cuisine, George Mavrothalassitis. Le soon was named sous chef. However, in 2011, unsure of what he wanted to do next—he had toyed with the idea of a brick-and-mortar restaurant of his own, but was leery of the risk—Le left Mavro and opened his now-famous pop-up The Pig and the Lady. It’s at the pop-up and the farmers markets that Le, along with Mama Le and the rest of the Le clan, cook up what is essentially family meal in the truest sense those lucky enough to snag a table.