Mango and Peppercorns: A Memoir of Food, an Unlikely Family, and the American Dream

A powerful memoir of resilience, friendship, family, and food.

From the acclaimed chefs behind the award-winning Hy Vong Vietnamese restaurant in Miami comes a powerful memoir peppered with archival imagery and 20 Vietnamese recipes.

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Michelle Bernstein

"There is nothing like Hy Vong. I craved its food like no other... I’ve been begging for their recipes for years! Yet even more than their food, I am inspired by their story. What are the odds that these women—unlikely friends, raised on different continents, who didn’t always get along well when they finally did meet—ended up with such magic between the two of them? I can’t tell you what it is, but I wish I had a piece of that magic. It’s such an American story: A pregnant, hardworking Vietnamese refugee meets a strong midwestern woman with a big personality. Together they open a cherished, widely acclaimed restaurant, creating their success as a business owned entirely by women—all while raising a child. They got more than they expected. We all did." – From the foreword by Michelle Bernstein, James Beard Award winning chef

Lidia Bastianich

Mango and Peppercorns is a touching and inspirational culinary journey into a fascinating culture and a cuisine that I adore. This incredible story about the dream of a refugee that fled Communist rule in Vietnam hit home for me. Her passion for food made her American dream come true. It’s a story that one needs to savor and appreciate, along with the delicious recipes that are inspired by it. -Lidia Bastianich, Celebrity Chef and Public Television host

Lee Schrager

Both unapologetically honest and deeply resonant, Mango and Peppercorns captures the unmistakable allure of Hy Vong and the trailblazing trio of women at its heart. After nearly 20 years of standing in line for Tung’s spring rolls and pork rolling cakes (and praying Kathy wasn’t going to tell me they’ve sold out!), I’m once again reminded that the best things in life are worth the wait, especially this beautiful and heartwarming cookbook and memoir. -Lee Schrager, Founder of Food Network South Beach and New York City Wine and Food Festival

Margaria Fichtner

This unflinching, often unsparing story of how a terrified, pregnant Vietnamese refugee and a strong- willed Iowa tomboy defeated almost overwhelming adversity to open one of South Florida’s most beloved restaurants has much to say about the vitality of the human spirit, the shape-shifting concept of family and the sheer glory of perfectly prepared food. For more than three decades, from a tiny storefront in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana, Tung Nguyen and Kathy Manning cobbled together more than just a business. At Hy Vong, they created a culture. First-time customers quickly became loyalists, never complaining about the long waits for their table or first course. All they had to do was learn the formula: relax; have a beer; maybe have a chat, because a promise is a promise, and the barbecued pork with rice noodles will be the most wondrous you have ever tasted. Told through the alternating voices of Tung, Kathy and Tung’s daughter Lyn Nguyen, the Hy Vong story echoes the pain of past secrets, but it also reverberates with daily life’s frustration and inspiration, grievance and forgiveness, gratitude and love. Each chapter ends with at least one recipe, which means that now we all can try to keep the soup pot, and maybe the melting pot, simmering and stirred. -Margaria Fichtner, Former Miami Herald writer and editor