Our Kitchen Cabinet series this week welcomes a guest star from the Charleston Wine + Food Festival roster, in keeping with our tradition of theming every column around the event just before it begins. Like all of our Kitchen Cabinet regulars, Diep Tran is an immigrant: She came to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1978, when she was 6 years old.
Tran’s family was in the restaurant business, a tradition she’s upheld. She’s the owner of Good Girl Dinette, a Vietnamese comfort food diner in Los Angeles. Tran also is an outspoken advocate for social justice; her 2017 essay for The Salt on the ways in which “cheap eats” lists devalue international dishes and the people who make them is a must-read.
At the Wine + Food Festival, Tran will join fellow chefs Ashley Christensen and Mashama Bailey, along with Southern Foodways Alliance director John T. Edge and The Grey’s owner Johno Morisano for a discussion of how progressive restaurants can contribute to cultural change. Tickets to “The Business of Food” at the Charleston Music Hall on Friday afternoon are priced at $25 apiece. To purchase, visit charlestonwineandfood.com.
Appropriately for someone tackling such an optimistic topic, Tran shared her recipe for spring rolls.
“They’re particularly wonderful when lettuces are at their peak, which is now,” she says. “Choose a flavorful lettuce that’s not too ribby so that it won’t break through the rice paper.”
This recipe calls for cinnamon basil, a type of Thai basil that’s also known as Mexican spice basil. If you can’t find the herb, Tran says cilantro or mint, or a mix of the two, works just as well.
— Hanna Raskin