MEET VAN TRAN
The daily trip down an Old Quarter lane lined with purple blossoming bang lang trees to the local market. The gentle sweetness of a bowl of pho by Hanoi’s St Joseph’s Cathedral on a wintry morning. The spicy chillies in a banh mi on the fire escape staircase in Manhattan’s fierce summer heat. The sourness of an early spring English rhubarb in a classic canh chua soup in a Hackney home kitchen. Van’s love story with food could have had any of these beginnings.
But it wasn’t until the regular visits to Broadway Market in East London turned this innate love into an expression that Bep Haus began life, first as the Vietnamese baguette Banhmi11 market stall. Van and Anh, two Hanoi women who met at Oxford, decided to join their local market, not as consumers but makers. Evenings after their day jobs, they made pate, roast pork, pickles from past-down family recipes and brought everything to the market on Saturdays on the back of two bicycles.
By the time Van opened the first Bep Haus on Bow Lane, St Paul’s – after leaving a finance career in the City, travelling the length of Vietnam following her mother’s passing away, and working for years in the markets of London and running supper clubs and pop-up events, her return to Vietnamese cooking as a way of healthy and honest eating has gained cult like following, endorsed by the likes of Jamie Oliver and Nigel Slater.
Bep Haus is a physical expression of a personal approach to popularise Vietnamese as the perfect contemporary cuisine – an alternative of modern comfort, feel-good daily fare for a global plate, an answer to many of the health and nutrition issues faced daily by millions of people, and an every destination for every busy urban professional for every meal.
1.We believe as long as you eat well, all is well
2.We believe food is the adventure closest to home
3.We believe cooking has no borders
4.We believe being together is better: making friends, talking to strangers, laughing and sharing over food
5.We believe nature knows best: start from the source ingredients and everything else will follow
6.We believe food is fair: democracy works on the plate, anybody can cook well and anybody can eat well
7.We believe good food inspires: it makes us bold, it helps you to live better, to take chances
8.We believe food is the fastest way to heaven: it’s the simplest thing in life that makes you truly happy from the inside
9.We believe in choosing the road less traveled: it will take you further
The logo of Bep Haus was born on the 23rd of the twelfth month of the year of the Goat – the day exactly one week before the turn of a new year when Vietnamese people honour the kitchen gods.
Following a time-honoured tradition, families set free kew fish into the lakes and rivers of Vietnam, so that the kitchen gods may ride them on their ways to heavens, to report on the affairs of the house during the previous year. It’s a way to wash away what has passed, and make way for a new beginning.
The logo reflects our aspiration that wherever there is a kitchen, there is a home, and with it all the heritage, culture, and tradition of a people. That the Kitchen House may be a place where the past is remembered and the future takes roots.
The shops are in Central London – our first one on Bow Lane, a stone’s throw from where Van started her career many years back as an analyst on Gresham Street. We purposely build shops in areas where we feel connected to, where we’d like to set up an open house.
We work with designer friends to realise our vision for a functional space for our team to work in and an inviting place for our guests for come to, not only for special occasions dining but everyday, every meal. Our inspiration is first and foremost the people, the communities we come into contact with and want to collaborate. From the flowers to the furniture, each item has been thoughtfully collected.
The shop is made mostly of reclaimed and re-purposed materials, whether it’s footpath pavement bricks that we use to clad the counter, or warehouse floorboards and recycled tiles that we use for the walls. We bring back many mementos from our travels to Vietnam and the region, and we visit back alley markets and local designers alike to collect things we wish we’d have in a well-travelled home. We want you to visit a lived in space of people who are connected to a special part of the world, not a postcard photo.
Our kitchen spaces are small and open – akin to the market stalls we used to (and still do) work from. Founded by two people with no formal chef training, just a hunger to taste the world, we truly believe that anyone can cook. So everyone in the shops cooks and everyone helps to serve, and everyone does their fair share of cleaning, just like you would at home.