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TikTok Chef Tue Nguyen Launches Her First Restaurant in L.A. – The Hollywood Reporter

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Back in March 2020, Tue Nguyen was a little-known prep cook at Spago making mukbangs (or eating videos) and restaurant reviews and posting them online during her free time.

Today, she has more than a million followers across TikTok and Instagram and a forthcoming cookbook with Simon & Schuster and is opening her first restaurant, Di Di, in early July. “It’s been crazy,” she says, reflecting on how quickly her life has changed.

Though she admits she was insecure at first about publicizing her cooking on social media, when the pandemic hit, “I said, ‘Fuck it. Let’s just do it,’ ” recalls Nguyen, who’s known by the social media handle @TwayDaBae.

She started making videos of herself cooking Vietnamese cuisine for anyone who’d watch. Her first video was an easy recipe for fried rice posted to TikTok that has since garnered more than 1.3 million likes.

“Food was always something that I could express myself through,” says Nguyen, who was born in Vietnam and moved to Oxnard with her family when she was 8. “And, for me, food is a way to connect people.”

Of course, cooking at home is one thing; opening a high-profile restaurant in L.A. is another, a challenge for even the most seasoned chef. Regardless, in July 2021, Nguyen hosted a two-night pop-up at Petite Taqueria restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard. “It was a very big adjustment,” Nguyen admits, “but I knew that in order to make my vision come true of really connecting with people through my food, I had to do that to get the experience.”

First-look renderings of the 90-seat Di Di restaurant, set to open at 755 N. La Cienega Blvd.

A first-look rendering of the 90-seat Di Di restaurant, set to open at 755 N. La Cienega Blvd.

John Sofio, Built, Inc.

John Terzian, co-founder of H.Wood Group (Delilah, Harriet’s, Bootsy Bellows), tells THR he was “blown away by the pop-up.” After Petite Taqueria officially closed in 2022 (it never reopened after the pandemic hit), Terzian says he and H.Wood Group co-founder Brian Toll “realized maybe it’s something we approach her about taking over, partnering with us, and doing a concept.” The idea for Di Di was born.

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“It’s a culmination of all my experiences,” Nguyen says of Di Di (pronounced dee dee, Vietnamese for “let’s go”). Take, for example, the honey-glazed shrimp dish on the menu. It began as a recipe Nguyen made for a final at the Art Institutes Culinary Arts School, from which she graduated in 2020. “That was my first time creating something for people to eat,” she continues. “The reaction I got gave me the confidence boost that I can actually do this.” It’s become a popular recipe for Nguyen online, and she says, “I knew that I had to put it in the restaurant.” (Meals go for about $75 per person.)

“I really view Tue and this concept as a star rising,” Terzian concludes. He and Nguyen are aware they could be charting a path for future TikTok stars, but Nguyen is “hoping to inspire not just social media chefs, but also young women and young people to open their own businesses and just go for it.”

First-look renderings of the 90-seat Di Di restaurant, set to open at 755 N. La Cienega Blvd.

A first-look renderings of a bar area at the upcoming Di Di restaurant in Los Angeles.

John Sofio, Built, Inc.

A version of this story first appeared in the June 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.





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