Lillian Phan is the powerhouse Director of Operations for Fang Restaurant, the hot spot that's putting the "Fang" in "flavor" in San Francisco's bustling culinary scene. She's the brains behind the restaurant's daily operations, making sure everything runs smoothly from the kitchen to the front of house, all while keeping the competition on their toes.
Lillian Phan: From Fang Restaurant To Food Network's Chef Dynasty: House Of Fang
But that's not all - Phan is also a producer and star on Food Network's latest cooking competition show, Chef Dynasty: House of Fang, where she brings her expertise and strategic mindset to help the Fang family conquer their culinary challenges. She's like the secret sauce that ties everything together and keeps the Fangs ahead of the game.
With her culinary know-how and her laser-sharp focus, Phan is an integral part of Fang Restaurant's success. Her collaboration with Chef Kathy Fang has helped to elevate the restaurant to new heights, making it a must-visit destination for foodies and casual diners alike. And with her starring role on Chef Dynasty, she's taking the culinary world by storm, one dish at a time. So if you're looking for some serious flavor and a little bit of spice, Lillian Phan and Fang Restaurant are definitely worth sinking your teeth into.
Lillian Phan Talks Chef Dynasty, Dream Guest Stars, And Creating The Perfect Asian-Inspired Party Atmosphere
HONEYSUCKLE MAGAZINE: So, Chef Dynasty: House of Fang… it's not just about food, is it?
LILLIAN PHAN: You got that right. It's a story of family, of push and pull, of owners and partners, and of a father-daughter duo that's making magic happen in the kitchen.
Wow, that sounds intense. What surprises people the most about the show?
Well, I'd say the dynamic between Chef Kathy and her dad, Chef Peter, is what catches people off guard. They've got a very traditional Asian family dynamic, where hugs are few and far between and some topics are off-limits. It's definitely not your typical American family sitcom, that's for sure.
I see. So it's like a behind-the-scenes look at a real-life Asian family business?
Exactly! It's an accurate portrayal of what it's like to work with family, to have high expectations, and to balance tradition with innovation. And with Chef Kathy's unique approach to cooking, there's never a dull moment in the kitchen. It's a show that'll leave you hungry for more.
Season 1 of Chef Dynasty: House of Fang had some surprise guests like Kristi Yamaguchi. Who do you think would be the ultimate guest star and what dish from the Fang menu would you recommend they try?
Oh, great question! Let me put my producer hat on for a moment. I'd love to see Vice President Kamala Harris attend a political event catered by Fang when she's back in the Bay Area. And you know who'd make a perfect dinner companion? Designer Vera Wang. We could have a beautiful collaboration dinner in her San Francisco showroom, and I can just imagine the stunning table settings. Oh, and we can't forget about giving back to the community. A nonprofit event benefiting Ayesha and Steph Curry’s Eat Learn Play would be fantastic.
Those are some great ideas! But, I have to ask, who's your ultimate celebrity dream team for Chef Dynasty?
(Laughs) Oh, you know I've thought about this. My absolute dream would be to have Awkwafina and Simu Liu from [Marvel’s] Shang Chi on the show. I mean, who wouldn't want to see them cooking up a storm in the Fang kitchen? And of course, they'd have to try the Dungeness Crab Xiao Long Bao, it's a signature dish that's out of this world.
(Laughs) That sounds amazing! You should definitely pitch that to the network.
You know what they say, if you don't ask, they won't come. The sky's the limit when it comes to Chef Dynasty. By the way, have you heard that 2023 is the year of the rabbit?
Yes, I have. From what we hear, it's predicted to be a year of hope, peace, and prosperity. Speaking of which, what are your hopes for the future of Chef Dynasty: House of Fang?
Well, as someone who was brought on to elevate the Fang brand and create more revenue growth, I hope to see new and different partnership opportunities for Fang and expansion plans to continue the momentum.
Chef Dynasty: House of Fang is an all Asian-American cast with a focus on multigenerational differences. How does it feel to share your story as part of such a high profile experience?
Honestly, it's been an incredible journey. Being able to showcase the nuances and complexities of Asian-American culture has been so rewarding, and to have it resonate with audiences is just amazing.
That's really cool. I can imagine it must have been a bit chaotic having cameras around all the time. What's something from your own upbringing and unique cultural experience that helped you navigate the chaos of constantly being on camera?
Oh, definitely my tiger mom upbringing. Everything was about achieving the highest possible level of success, so I learned to juggle multiple activities and stay calm under pressure. It's definitely helped me to stay focused and get the job done, even when there's a lot going on around me.
In episode 2, the chefs had to bring a signature homemade dish to share. What's your go-to dish for important celebrations?
Oh, that would have to be Banh Chung. It's a traditional Vietnamese rice cake filled with pork and mung bean, wrapped in banana leaves and then pan-fried.
That sounds amazing. Is there a special way you prepare it or do you have a recipe to share?
You can actually preorder them from personal cooks or specialty shops. But my favorite way to serve it is with dried shredded pork and pickled vegetables. It's a comforting and nostalgic meal that instantly transports me back to my childhood.
Chef Dynasty: House of Fang is truly a rich cast of characters. Let’s dish on your fellow cast members using only menu descriptions. Are they “spicy”, “extra spicy,” “sweet,” “savory”?
Well, putting me on the spot, I would have to go with: Chef Kathy – Black Bean Chili Spicy; Chef Peter – OG Five Spice; Chef Krista – Condensed Milk Sweet; Christy-Anne – Jujube Honey Sweet; Joshua – Tasty; Long – Hot & Sour Soup; Katie – Savory.
Since the show debuted, how has life changed for you both inside and outside the restaurant?
Well, I've definitely made some life-long friendships with the cast and crew, and I'm grateful for this once in a lifetime experience. It's not every day that you get to produce and be in six episodes on Food Network that are broadcast internationally!
That's pretty amazing. What's something that you never expected, good, bad, or crazy, that's now part of your life thanks to being in the spotlight in such a real way?
I think one unexpected thing is that I've had a lot of people recognize me in public now! It's definitely a bit strange, but I would do anything for my love of food and hospitality, and so if I am going to get recognized on the street… I'm glad it’s for doing what I'm passionate about.
After watching you obsess over every detail for the restaurant’s offsite events, I imagine you always have the perfect table setup for celebrating at home. Do you have any tips on how to create a great atmosphere for guests?
Oh, I've got some tips for you. First, you'll want to get some spring blossom branches, lots of auspicious red decor, and some cultural traditions from Vietnam, China and Korea. It's all about the fusion of cultures, you know? …In the Bay Area, we love to include citrus, dried and candied fruit, red lanterns and envelopes, dumplings, whole fish and longevity noodles. Your guests will love it if you can incorporate some or all of these items into your table setup.
Any “secret weapons” that can knock things out of the park?
You'll definitely want to have some fun things to keep your guests entertained. Bang snap favors are always a hit, and you can also play music by Asian artists. I recommend the Crazy Rich Asians soundtrack mixed in with some traditional music and songs just to keep the mix filled with surprises. And don't forget about the Vietnamese gambling game, bầu cua cá cọp. Your guests will be enthralled for hours on end.
Wow, you've really thought of everything! Thanks for the tips, I can't wait to try them out at my next celebration.
Potent Pairing And Haute Honey Pro Tip: Elefante Vegan Gummies
Phan’s given us some real “pro tips” that are clutch – there’s no shame in ordering ready-to-cook options. After all, the line between making and cooking is awfully thin. To compliment whichever direction you head with your favorite eats, we’d recommend grabbing one of our favorites from another AAPI trailblazer – Julie Tran’s enchanting edibles from the world of Elefante. While her Emerald Cup Award-winning Papaya Rosin Gummies made us first take notice of her creative concoctions, we are currently loving her Pineapple Strawberry Vegan masterpieces that pack just the right amount of punch in terms of flavor blended with a gorgeously balanced rapid onset elevation. Perfectly pocket sized and a great addition to any party, you can find Elefante in various specialty retailers in California.
Pop one in your mouth and let Tran’s unique take on flavor awaken your taste buds alongside that beautiful buzz and and settle in for the stream. Whether it’s an episode or a solid binge – Chef Dynasty: House of Fang is sure to be your newest guilty pleasure.
CHEF DYNASTY: HOUSE OF FANG is available for streaming on HBO Max, Discovery+, fuboTV, and Amazon Prime. If you are looking to immerse yourself in person, check out Fang Restaurant, 660 Howard St, San Francisco, CA, just around the corner from San Francisco’s famed Museum of Modern Art during your next visit. Learn more and snag your choice reservation here.
Find Out More On Social
Featured image: Lillian Phan, Director of Operations for Fang Restaurant and star of Food Network's CHEF DYNASTY: HOUSE OF FANG (C) Food Network