Mango and Peppercorns: A Memoir of Food, an Unlikely Family, and the American Dream
A powerful memoir of resilience, friendship, family, and food.
In 1975, after narrowly escaping the fall of Saigon, pregnant refugee and gifted cook Tung Nguyen ended up in the Miami home of Kathy Manning, a graduate student and waitress who was taking in displaced Vietnamese refugees. This serendipitous meeting evolved into a decades-long partnership, one that eventually turned strangers into family and a tiny, no-frills eatery into one of the most lauded restaurants in the country.
Tung's fierce practicality often clashed with Kathy's free-spirited nature, but over time, they found a harmony in their contrasts—a harmony embodied in the restaurant's signature mango and peppercorns sauce.
"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