Today we’d like to introduce you to Tin Vuong.
Blackhouse Hospitality Group is a Los Angeles-based restaurant and hospitality group that owns and operates Little Sister in Manhattan Beach and Downtown LA; Abigaile, The Brewery at Abigaile, Día de Campo, and Steak & Whisky in Hermosa Beach; Wildcraft in Culver City; Bluegold and LSXO in Huntington Beach. Collectively, Blackhouse manages more than $25 million annually in food and beverages sales. With rapid expansion on the horizon, the group plans to open at least two new concepts in 2018.
Tin Vuong approaches his role as chef-partner of Blackhouse Hospitality with the laser-sharp focus and creativity of a man who not only relishes quality, but demands it from his whole team. He curates the chef collaboration behind Blackhouse’s cooperative restaurant model, spearheading test-kitchen menu development and concept ideation. “Open communication is key,” he explains. “I drive the meetings, but I encourage our chefs to creatively challenge each other as we put together the menus.”
This emphasis on fostering a collaborative environment stems partly from Vuong’s childhood. Born in California to a Chinese family who fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon, Vuong witnessed his relatives each working multiple jobs to support themselves within the U.S. They would often all eat together at the end of a long day, choosing to dine out in Monterey Park around 11p.m. Years later, after Vuong completed his bachelor’s degree in economics at UCLA, he decided to channel his business skills with his passion for food by enrolling in the California Academy of Culinary Arts in San Francisco. Shortly after graduating, he became the executive sous chef at the St. Regis Hotel and Resort in Monarch Beach, CA, where he ultimately earned the responsibility of overseeing eight chefs and four restaurants. In 2012, he moved on from his position as director of culinary operations at Sapphire in Laguna Beach to become the executive chef of Abigaile in Hermosa Beach. Since that time, he has become the chief operator and chef- partner of Blackhouse Hospitality Group, guiding the inventive menus and innovative experiences of two Little Sister restaurants in Manhattan Beach and Downtown Los Angeles (which showcase the rich collisions of food and culture borne out of the European colonization of Southeast Asia and has garnered significant praise from notable food critics including Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jonathan Gold who named it one of his “101 Best Restaurants” in 2014 and 2015), Wildcraft in Culver City, Día de Campo in Hermosa Beach, and Steak & Whisky in Hermosa Beach.
Bluegold and LSXO are the latest ventures for Blackhouse. Executive Chef Tin Vuong gave way to the Puerto Rico native, Chef Jorge Valines – who employs his culinary expertise to bring farm-to-table back to its roots at Bluegold in Huntington Beach.
Previously, Valines worked as the executive chef at Abigaile’s in Hermosa Beach, CA as well as James Beach in Venice, CA. After receiving a culinary arts degree at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI, Valines perfected his skills as an executive chef at Code Venice (formerly Dry Tour), Canal Club, and Danny’s in Venice. He has participated as a featured chef in Abigaile Kitchen Takeover II alongside Chefs Dean McDermott, Jet Tila, and Blackhouse Hospitality Executive Chef-Partner Tin Vuong. Valines also dedicates time towards charity – he has fulfilled a dream for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and catered an American Cancer Society event in Miami Beach, FL.
Bluegold celebrates Southern California’s land, from citrus groves to the rocky coast, with a renewal of the coastal California eatery (Bluegold’s name was inspired by the point where the sunset hits the ocean on the horizon). With Bluegold, the Blackhouse team seeks to take farm-to-table back to its roots; to a time where leisure met cuisine and culture was drawn from the earth and sea. From fresh oysters in the steam kettle to a savory steak grilled over charcoal, Bluegold reimagines the seaside dining experience.
And then there’s LSXO – Behind an unmarked door adjacent to the wine room, guests are transported to District 1 (China Town) in Saigon via Blackhouse’s 28-seat restaurant-within-a-restaurant, LSXO. A spinoff of the Little Sister brand (Manhattan Beach and Downtown Angeles), LSXO is love letter to the culture, heritage, and lineage of Vietnam (Vuong’s relatives hail from the region). While Little Sister is known for its French Vietnamese menu, LSXO follows the same Southeast Asian inspiration with a more refined, expat feel.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I didn’t really plan to go this far when I first ventured out. Everything organically happened with the right time and luck — with hard work, everything fell into place. How it all happened — it’s different for sure. There’s lot more pressure now. Before it was like, working with a little bit of angst. I didn’t care what people thought, I just did it. Now if I do a project, there’s a pedestal that people put you on that I didn’t ask for, and you have to outperform yourself. It’s just like any other artist who puts out a record, and then they have to keep putting out better ones. Now I have to think more strategically.
Building a better team, there’s a lot more personalities. My team has grown from two to 400+ people now. There’s a lot of noise from social media too. People’s reviews, opening a restaurant, some people try to pull you down. It’s a fact of life and a course that people have to go through.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Bluegold – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Blackhouse Hospitality debut their flagship O.C.-based dining destination, Bluegold, in addition to their first restaurant-within-a-restaurant concept, LSXO, both situated at Pacific City in Huntington Beach, CA. As the group’s ninth project in less than five years, the 8,800 square foot space is Blackhouse’s largest multi-dimensional dining concept to date. A modern interpretation of the classic California coastal eatery, Bluegold invites guests to relax and take in the sunset from one of 235 seats offering unobstructed views of the Pacific.
We were intrigued by the opportunity to create an anchor restaurant for Huntington Beach and thought long and hard about what the space should be—with every new restaurant, we look out for which type of cuisine is under-served in the area. We want it to feel honest to the site and drew inspiration from the indigenous, self-supporting California missions that grew their produce on the land and baked their own bread.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We’re working on a spin off catering company (Blackhouse Catering) in the next few months. We’re going to give are patrons of all 9 concepts the opportunity to curate their menu. With nine concepts, they will have plenty of options and we’re looking forward to serving the Southern California community beyond our brick and mortar locations.
- Address: 21016 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, Ca 92648
- Website: dinebluegold.com
- Phone: (305) 807-4442
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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