Tam Le oral history interview and transcript
Born in 1989 in Houston, Texas, Tam Le’s steady passion for traveling and expanding her worldview has led her to work in New York, London, Central and South America, Istanbul, Singapore, and Vietnam at various points her life. Currently residing in Austin, Le is a brand strategist for Landor & Fitch, helping to bridge gaps between designers and her clients. On top of her career in marketing, she is also extremely passionate about food. Despite not developing an interest in cooking until after college, once Le’s curiosity was sparked, it quickly took off; in Vietnam, she opened a reservation-only Vietnamese-Mexican fusion restaurant called Saigonita in her own apartment! Her background in both Vietnamese and Mexican cuisine (from growing up in Houston) placed her at a unique crossroads to successfully combine the two into creative dishes such as “Hue-vos Rancheros” — a mix between Vietnamese Bún Bò Huế and Mexican huevos rancheros. Although space restrictions limited the number of guests at each dinner, Saigonita rapidly grew in popularity as word spread. Unfortunately, in 2020, Le had to move back to Houston to undergo a liver transplant, because she was not born with bile ducts. Despite a formidable surgery and healing process, Le expresses gratitude for everyone who stepped up to help, especially Ann Le, a high school classmate who became her living organ donor. Currently, post-transplant, Le lives with her boyfriend and younger sister, and is rediscovering yoga and watercolor among other hobbies.
This recording and transcript form part of a collection of oral history interviews conducted by the Chao Center for Asian Studies at Rice University. This collection includes audio recordings and transcripts of interviews with Asian Americans native to or living in Houston.