Chef Charles Phan of The Slanted Door - Biography
San Francisco, CA
Charles Phan was born in South Vietnam, but when his homeland fell to the Vietcong, he and his family moved briefly to Guam and then settled in San Francisco. In 1995, Phan opened The Slanted Door, a restaurant that broke the mold of the run-of-the-mill "ethnic" joint. "No one was doing a high-design, high-service Asian restaurant," Phan recalls. Instead of serving dozens of mediocre entrées at The Slanted Door, Phan concentrated on a small rotating menu of authentic home-style Vietnamese dishes. He highlighted fresh, seasonal ingredients from small local farms and paired his menus with a creative wine list.
The Slanted Door was an immediate success and has continued to garner praise from restaurant critics across the country. In 2004, Phan won the coveted James Beard Award for Best Chef: California. Driving all of Phan's culinary endeavors is his belief that it is the duty of those in the food business to preserve cultural traditions. "Food is history—you can tell a lot about a culture by looking at how and what they cook and eat," he says. "I would hate to see clay pots go out of fashion 50 years from now."
In 2004 he opened Out The Door, 2008 Academy Cafe, and Heaven's Dog, then in 2010 584 Valencia Street.