Bobby Chinn

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Bobby Chinn
Born Robert Chinn
(1964-04-03) 3 April 1964 (age 52)
Auckland, New Zealand
Alma mater Richmond College (B.A., Finance and Economics, 1986) [1]
Occupation chef, author, television presenter

Robert "Bobby" Chinn (born 3 April 1964) is an internationally renowned television presenter, chef, restaurateur and cookbook author who has lived in Vietnam since 1996. He is half Egyptian and half Chinese. He runs the restaurant Bobby Chinn. Over his career, he has cooked for a number of personalities, including Bill Clinton in 2011 and Bob Dylan on his Asian Tour. In 2013, Bobby Chinn moved to London to open his new restaurant, the House of Ho. In June 2014, Chinn was nominated as the ambassador of Tourism for Vietnam by the Ministry of Tourism Sports and Culture.[2] In Bobby Chinn's Vietnamese Food book, chef Anthony Bourdain described him in his foreword as "an international man of mystery" and "what Bobby doesn't know about Southeast Asian food isn't worth knowing".[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Chinn was born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1964, to an Egyptian mother and a Chinese-American father.[4] He studied in the public school system in San Francisco, two private schools in Cairo, Egypt, and two public boarding schools in England.

Chinn attended Millfield, Somerset, between 1977 and 1980 on a sports scholarship where he played first 15 rugby as well as being a general all-around athlete.

Chinn attended the College of Marin, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California and eventually Richmond College in London where he graduated with a BA in Finance and Economics in 1986.[1]

Early career[edit]

After graduating, Chinn worked as a research analyst in Boca Raton, Florida, for Jay W. Charles in 1987. Chinn worked for a hedge fund in San Francisco, before eventually moving to New York City where he worked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, trading American depository receipts.[5]

In 1990, Chinn worked for Blue Shell, supplying PEI mussels and oysters to the top restaurants in New York City. Chinn enrolled in the French Culinary Institute in New York, but dropped out to study improvisational comedy at The Groundings, Los Angeles. While working in various restaurants as a waiter, he practiced stand-up comedy in LA. Chinn then moved back to San Francisco, and worked in the restaurant industry while performing at The Holy City Zoo.

Bobby Chinn, the Chef[edit]

While working for Elka Gilmore, Traci Des Jardins and other chefs at Elka Restaurant in the Miyako Hotel in San Francisco, Chinn became passionate about food. His big break came from Hubert Keller from Fleur de Lys, where he worked the pantry for a year. He was part of the opening team at the Coconut Grove on Van Ness Ave., where he became the Saucier, but succumbed to a back injury which left him crippled. He was unable to work for 1 year, during which he eventually work-staged in France and returned to have back surgery at Spine Care in San Francisco. He was diagnosed as permanent and stationary and was instructed that he could no longer work as a chef in the State of California.

In 1996, Chinn moved to Ho Chi Minh City and worked at La Camargue restaurant. Within six months, Chinn had opened his own restaurant, Saigon Joe's. Chinn eventually left Saigon Joe's and moved to Hanoi to open another restaurant, Miro. In 1997, Chinn opened The Red Onion over the infamous Hanoi Hilton, attracting guests like Hillary Clinton and where he received a lot of attention from the media including the Financial Times, CNN, and lifestyle magazines. The success of this restaurant gave Chinn the opportunity to open his eponymous restaurant in 2001, Restaurant Bobby Chinn.[6]

In 2013, Chinn moved to London and opened a modern Vietnamese eatery named The House of Ho, which occupies the former site of The 2i's Coffee Bar, Soho, otherwise known as the Birthplace of British Rock'n'Roll and the modern pop industry.[7] The 'Rock'n'roll Wall' has been preserved and maintained inside The House of Ho.[citation needed]

WWF Ambassador[edit]

Since 2012, Bobby Chinn has worked with the WWF as an ambassador promoting Sustainable Seafood Production.[8] In 2014, he once again joined World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Costa del Hamilo, Inc. (Hamilo Coast) to celebrate the 3rd Coral Triangle Day on June 9 in Nasugbu, Batangas and promote sustainable seafood production and consumption.[9] He believes that chefs should care about the sourcing and preparation of their seafood dishes, even if their customers might not be aware of the issues surrounding the consumption of fish.

Tourism Ambassador for Vietnam[edit]

On 17 July 2014, Bobby Chinn was appointed Tourism Ambassador for Vietnam in Europe at the Vietnamese embassy in Kensington, London. Bobby was appointed at a ceremony conducted by Vietnam's president and ambassador. His position as Tourism Ambassador is for 4 years.[10]


In 1996, Chinn launched his television career with a series now known as TLC. World Cafe Asia, also marketed internationally as Planet Food, for Discovery Network Travel and Living. It broke many records and provided him with the "Best Entertainment Presenter" award at the Asia TV Awards in 2007 and 2010.[11] Chinn hosted Globe Trekker Food Hour: Ireland in 2014, and Globe Trekker Food Hour: Sicily in 2015.


Chinn created a travel cookbook on Vietnamese cuisine called Wild Wild East. Later it was reprinted in a paperback edition called Vietnamese Food. Vietnamese Food contains more than 100 recipes and a comprehensive section on Vietnamese ingredients and what Bobby calls the building blocks of his recipes, such as sauces and stocks. It is a guide to Vietnamese food as it is eaten today, from snacks and street foods to his own fusion-style restaurant dishes such as tamarind-glazed crab cakes with chive flowers, and green-tea smoked duck breasts with sticky-rice parcels and baby bok choi. The book is interspersed with Bobby's foodie stories and kitchen tales such as his first experiences of running a kitchen, his discovery of the recipe for the secret sauce on his grilled chicken and his off-the-wall tales of the more unusual food and ingredients.[12]

The book was censored in Vietnam for stories that the government thought to be sensitive, but later it was accepted as a good body of work.


External links[edit]