I am Duncan Lu, an astute home cook of Vietnamese cuisine, a dental professional and business owner. I enjoy food from all cultures around the world and aspire to share this passion with young Australians.
From a young age, I’ve always been fascinated with the culinary world and grew up watching (and re-watching!), studying and absorbing the techniques of classic cooks such as Jamie Oliver, Clarissa Wright, and Jennifer Paterson.
My understanding of Vietnamese food culture, however, began with my Grandma, who instilled in me a passion for traditional home-cooked food and an appreciation of its origin, identity, beliefs and systems of food.
I was 12 when she passed away and my Uncle Tai, a chef by trade, took over the reins of the family kitchen. Uncle Tai taught me everything - seasoning, searing, frying - you name it he showed me but most importantly he shared with me Grandma’s recipes. It was when I moved out of the family home that I realised food can be communicative. When I first started cooking for myself, the recipes no longer tasted the same. Although the ingredients were all there something was missing.
That’s when I pinpointed it; emotion, evoked by a message, story, or narrative that came with sharing. This opened me up to a whole new way of thinking and the sensory perception of food. Like storytelling traditions of the past, cooking and the act of sharing gave food meaning. It is more than sustenance and calories; it’s a tool for expression and a true universal language.
PLATE OF ORIGIN
I am currently competing on Channel 7's Plate of Origin, as one half of Team Vietnam. As a team, we endeavour to take Australia’s appreciation of Vietnamese food to another level and prove that there’s much more to Vietnamese cuisine than just phở and bánh mì. I’m so proud to have a wealth of family recipes to draw from, many of which you can find and try for yourself in the recipes section.
Serving Vietnamese home-style recipes to arguably three of Australia’s biggest food authorities, Matt Preston, Manu Feidel and Gary Mehigan, is a dream come true. We auditioned for Plate of Origin to showcase the lesser known Vietnamese home-style dishes that we grew up eating to the Australian mainstream, and with the ambition to recreate a sensory experience for the three judges just like our mums did when they cooked for us - a big warm hug of flavour and nostalgia.
MASTER ROLL VIETNAM, SOUTH YARRA
"The best rice-paper rolls and banh mi in Melbourne. Don't get confused with the chain with the similar name, this is family run and all made to order. A chicken banh mi with duck rice-paper roll is the ultimate lunch."
- Shannon Bennett, Australian Chef and Author.
I always imagined a future in food. But as a first generation Vietnamese-Australian, I felt the family pressure to pursue a career in healthcare, and ultimately entered the dental profession. In the midst of this I moved out of home and continued cooking, probing and exploring the food cultures I grew up with, attempting to find and create new culinary links. I studied Vietnamese, traveled across Vietnam, and collected many family recipes from around the globe to find the best way to represent traditional Vietnamese food to an inner-city Melbourne crowd.
In 2014, driven by a lack of Vietnamese cuisine in South Yarra, my cousin and I established Master Roll Vietnam. May 2014 was the date Master Roll’s famous crispy pork was born. Since then, the overwhelmingly positive response from our community has only reinforced my confidence and passion for Vietnamese food. Master Roll has become a haven and hub where I can recreate Mum’s home recipes with a spin and twist, and share my knowledge of Vietnamese home cooking - a felicitous mix.
As a dental health professional since 2011, I have played a role in launching dental community outreach programs for the homeless in Adelaide, promoted oral health to the young and old, and ultimately consolidated my skills to the specialised field of orthodontics.
The opportunity to provide dental education to people of all ages for over the last decade, has ignited in me the desire to educate, empower and instil knowledge beyond the scope of oral health to my other passions, Vietnamese food and Vietnamese food culture.