Sofitel Saigon Plaza welcomes new "celebrity' executive chef

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The Sofitel Saigon Plaza in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 recently appointed Matt Coates as new executive chef.

Chef Coates, born in New Zealand, has been working in the restaurant industry in tropical resorts and restaurants for the last 20 years.

Coates has international five-star restaurant experience and has cooked for celebrities including Mick Jagger, Liz Hurley, and Beyoncé at the CottonHouse, a luxury five-star resort in the Caribbean.

Coates was exposed to the cuisine of other cultures at a very young age. After work, his father would make sure they spent time cooking together.

At 23, Coates earned a Certificate of Professional Cookery, and gained more experience in college while working at an upscale French restaurant.

He became a culinary traveler who always on the move, and would pick a country to work in based on his interest in the local cuisine. "The first time I had pho in Sydney 10 years ago, I was impressed with its refreshing taste and flavor," said Coates.

His interest in Vietnam deepened as he discovered the variety of ingredients that are available here, "more than in other Southeast Asian countries." The variety of herbs, vegetables and small peppers originating from Da Lat hills really inspire his devotion to fresh flavors.

He brings passion and appreciation for French Mediterranean cuisine to Vietnam and plans to revamp the menu of the two restaurants at Sofitel Saigon Plaza.

"The new menus will be simple, modern, and lighter with a lot of focus on the flavors and ingredients of food," said chef Coates.

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