Since childhood Asian Box’s Executive Chef Grace Nguyen’s interest in food and cooking dictated her path in life. With the opening of Asian Box came an opportunity to bring together both her personal background and professional experiences by combining her fine dining training with her family’s Vietnamese heritage.

Raised in Houston, Texas, Nguyen was introduced to cooking at an early age. Her mother was constantly making cakes, pastries, and cream puffs at home for the entire family. While watching her mother bake really piqued her interest in cooking, it was her Vietnamese grandmother whom she credits to introducing her to traditional Asian fare.

In 2011, Nguyen was approached by Asian Box CEO Frank Klein to spearhead the kitchen and menu development for his latest concept. For Nguyen, it was a natural fit. “Asian Box brings together two things I love – the Asian style of cooking and working with fresh ingredients. The best foods use simple preparation, top ingredients and have a sense of authenticity. Creating a menu on these three philosophies, not to mention the completely gluten free nature of the concept, has really inspired me in the kitchen and pushed me to a new level of creativity.”

Prior to her time at Asian Box, Nguyen enrolled in the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco to build upon her training. She then worked as a line cook at Postrio in San Francisco’s Union Square and later as sous chef for its Las Vegas location before accepting the role of sous chef at acclaimed Chef Charles Phan’s modern Vietnamese restaurant, Slanted Door. After a few years working with Phan, Nguyen was offered the position of chef de cuisine at his casual offshoot of Slanted Door, Out the Door, in the city’s Pacific Heights neighborhood. There, she created a playful menu with specials that celebrated her heritage. These dishes became instant favorites and she soon started developing a following around San Francisco.

Nguyen now lives in Menlo Park, California with her husband Chad Newton, a professional chef and culinary director atAsian Box. In addition to thriving in the culinary world, Nguyen’s hobbies include running and baking gluten-free goods for friends and family.