Culture and nostalgia are major influences on Bánh mì Maison stallholder, Stephanie Phuong.
While Stephanie’s family are Chinese, she was born in Vietnam, so both cultures influence her cooking style with the stall’s menu featuring a selection of Bánh mì, rice paper rolls, pho, noodles and other savoury treats.
“All my products are made from scratch. I always go for fresh, high quality ingredients and everything needs to be up to my standards before I let it go to the customers,” Stephanie said.
Stephanie’s interest in cooking can be traced back to her grandmother in Vietnam, who ran the household as well as the family business.
“Every morning my grandma would go to the markets to get ingredients for lunch and dinner. She would bring the food home and prep it, then go to work,” Stephanie said.
“Then at lunch and dinner time she would be back to the kitchen to whip up the meal for the family.”
Watching her grandma cook for the family influenced Stephanie from a very young age.
“While other kids were playing with dolls and barbies, I didn’t want anything to do with them,” she said.
“Instead, I asked my grandma if I could use the pots and pans but I couldn’t handle the big ones so she went out and bought a mini set.
“After she had prepped her ingredients and left for work, I would steal a little bit of her ingredients. I wasn’t allowed to play with gas, so instead I used candles to create stir fries for the other kids in the neighbourhood.”
When she moved to Australia, Stephanie tried a variety of different jobs, but kept coming back to her passion for food.
“I came to realise that food was my passion and the one thing that made me enjoy life,” Stephanie said.
“Not just the cooking, but the presentation and going the extra mile for my customers, seeing the impression my food makes on them. Watching their happiness and enjoyment from my cooking really makes my day.”
Stephanie used to run snack bars in Fortitude Valley and Salisbury, but taking on her own stall at the Saturday Fresh Market was a way for her to introduce her food to a new and wider audience.
“I love the Saturday Fresh Market because of the undercover venue, the live music and the friendly customers,” she said.
“You are a lot closer to your customers in a market environment and you see new faces every weekend rather than the same customers day in day out.”