To mark the 45th anniversary of friendship between Switzerland and Vietnam, Bern and Hanoi organised a series of events to pay homage to the strong ties woven between the two countries. One of these festivities was a cooking demonstration by chef Nguyen Hoang Nam, held at the Alimentarium on 12 October 2016. His Excellency Mr Pham Hai Bang, Ambassador of Vietnam in Switzerland, was joined by approximately one hundred people, all actively involved in bringing the two cultures closer together, to see the chef share the secrets of a recipe for nem, also known as cha-gio with lotus seeds that won the Golden Spoon Award, the highest culinary distinction in Vietnam1.
His Excellency Mr Pham Hai Bang, Ambassador of Vietnam, spoke to us about this gathering:
What is the inspiration for today’s celebration?
“Switzerland established diplomatic relations with Vietnam in 1971. Back then, recognizing the existence of our country was a pioneering and courageous decision. Forty-five years later, political, cultural and touristic exchanges continue to evolve. Switzerland has become Vietnam’s fourth-largest European economic partner. In the past decade, the volume of trade has more than quadrupled, and the number of Swiss travellers who travel to Vietnam each year has soared from 4000 to 10 000. Our cuisine, which comprises over 550 different dishes, is quite well known here. Consequently, to honour the richness of this culinary culture, this celebration is taking place at the Alimentarium. The programme of events also includes an economic forum in Bern, with the participation of the SECO (the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs) and a screening of the Vietnamese film Nostalgia for the Countryside at the Capitole cinema in Lausanne.”
The group gathered in the Alimentarium’s new FoodAcademy area for an introduction and words of thanks from Laetitia Aeberli, Head of Education at the Museum, and then the chef’s demonstration of how to prepare and make lotus seed nem. The technique for folding the rice or wheat wrappers used in this recipe was described down to the last detail. Large screens gave the densely-packed audience the chance to follow every move. After the demonstration, guests gathered round a delicious buffet of Vietnamese specialities.