Foreword

Foreword

By
Andreas Pohl, Tracey Lister
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742701578
Photographer
Michael Fountoulakis

Ten years ago, I made a promise to a small group of street kids. I gave them my word that I would find them a future beyond handouts: a future where in due time, they would be able to support themselves. Hospitality training seemed to be a good idea at the time. Tourism in Vietnam was booming, and hotels and restaurants needed waiters and chefs. This was the beginning of the KOTO restaurant and training centre. But it was a much bigger task than I imagined, and in those early days, I often felt overwhelmed by my mission.

Luckily, in one of those overwhelming moments, a woman appeared in the rubble of the building site that was to become the first KOTO training restaurant. She simply said: ‘I want to help.’ Tracey was a beacon of hope in the chaos of KOTO’s beginnings. She became my friend and professional guardian angel: someone I could lean on for support and strength. Together, we put the vision of KOTO into practice. As the project’s first chef/trainer, Tracey injected her professionalism and energy into running the restaurant, training the street kids, and providing pastoral care. A little later, her husband Andreas came on board as well. He knew how to use words, and at a stage when KOTO literally had no money, Andreas helped with a funding proposal that was accepted just in time to keep it afloat. I first met Michael, the photographer, at an exhibition that he organised to raise money for KOTO, and we became friends. Michael has travelled to Vietnam a few times and has helped as a volunteer whenever KOTO needed him.

KOTO has come a long way since those early days. It has grown into an organisation that now trains and finds employment for more than fifty trainees every year. Some things, though, will remain the same. KOTO will always be a local grassroots project. It will always look after the personal and professional wellbeing of the individual trainees.

And another thing hasn’t changed: running the project costs more than the training restaurant can provide. For the foreseeable future, we will continue to depend on support from the public. In this sense, this book will provide more than a wonderful insight into the rich food culture of Vietnam. Royalties from book sales will go to KOTO and provide an important contribution to its work. It means that we can, for example, continue to provide health care and housing for the trainees, and replace kitchen equipment. Thank you for helping us to make a difference.

Jimmy Pham

Founder, KOTO

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