Huynh was born in Saigon to Nghia Nguyen, a celebrated cookbook author and restaurateur, and father Hy Huynh, a respected architect. Little Bao took after his parents—at 12 he was already cooking, and even contributed recipes to one of his mother’s cookbooks. In 1982, Huynh headed to New York, living with an upstate family that owned an Italian restaurant. He trained and worked there, moving up the line from sous-chef to executive chef. Three years later, and still at his chef post, Huynh decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and study architecture as well.
Chef Michael Huynh’s Vietnamese cuisine. “Bao,” which is Huynh’s childhood nickname, means “special” or “precious” in Vietnamese. “Smart young foodies” know they’ve found just that, and Kathleen Squires of Paper magazine notes they “have been coming in droves to relive chef Michael Huynh’s artful Vietnamese cooking—again and again.”
Having mastered two disciplines, “The Architect Chef,” as Huynh came to be known, started designing and building restaurants—and making guest chef appearances in the kitchens of his clients. In 2001, Huynh opened his own restaurant, ViCaLa, which featured Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian cuisine. But Huynh longed to focus on the Vietnamese cooking he grew up with, and so, together with new partners Chris Johnson and Chris Andrews, he overhauled the restaurant and reopened it as Sen, later renamed Bao 111.
Chef Michael Bao Huynh, one of the most celebrated Vietnamese chefs in the world and one of he most prolific. His innate and intimate knowledge of his native cuisine enables Bao to open a remarkable number of restaurants each with a unique concept, sophisticated, Vietnamese slant. His ever expanding empire includes Bar Bao, Obao, Bia, Mikey's Burger, Pho Sure, Baoguette, D.O.B. 111, and his newest venture Bao Market. What's next for Chef Bao? There's talk of BaoBQ, and Baoritto, an Asian Latino Taco joint, as well as expansion into Asia and Vietnam where he is the country's top culinary Ambassador. Chef Michael Huynh has gained the reputation as the Chef to watch.