Meet the 15-year-old who decided to use pandemic downtime to open her first restaurant
Victoria Vu Duc explains why she wanted to share her love for her Vietnamese culture through food
When the pandemic hit, like all of us, Victoria Vu Duc found herself with time on her hands. But unlike most teens, she decided to open a restaurant.
Gatineau's Vic & Co (named after herself and her mom, Coco), serves delicacies including rice paper rolls, stir fries and pho, based on her family recipes. But her favourite is something she calls the "bonding soup."
"When I first started learning to make it, I got to know my family and our story," she explained, recalling times when she, her brother and sister listened to their parents share childhood stories, while cooking.
"What makes ours different is that it's made with love," she said.
"All our memories come back up ... stories ... our grandparents ... all the love comes back up."
WATCH | Teen restaurateur Victoria Vu Duc explains why she wanted to open a restaurant now:
For Vu Duc, whose family came to Canada from Vietnam in 2000, food is a way to connect with her culture, and share that with the community.
Vu Duc said she began cooking seriously in the pandemic's early days, at first just sharing recipes on Facebook.
But, when the opportunity arose to open a physical restaurant, she and her mom went for it — despite the challenge of juggling food prep and Grade 8, all during COVID.
"As parents, we always try to believe in the dreams of our kids. And Victoria — she was born with an old soul," said her mom, Coco Tran.
Vu Duc said she prioritizes hiring other young people to work at the restaurant, so they can gain work experience.
She also said it's important to give back to the community in other ways, for example by contributing to a local community fridge.
The restaurant recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. Looking back, Vu Duc said she's learned a lot from the mistakes of those early days.
"I will say it's a lot harder than I thought it would be, but I'd never exchange this opportunity for the world."
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