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Get to Know Culinary Chef and Social Media Entrepreneur, Trang Tran

When it comes to the food industry, Chef Trang Tran is passionate about preparing quality meals and providing memorable experiences.

It goes without saying that food certainly brings people together. Chef Trang plans on taking that idea one step further by launching a social networking platform in order to give people the tools and connections they need to create their own quality culinary experiences. 

Learn more about Chef Trang's experiences in the food industry, her new social media initiative, and more in her exclusive Q&A with MAKERS below:

Q: Tell us about your journey toward becoming a chef. Did you always have a natural gift for cooking or did it involve countless hours of practice? What first inspired you to become a chef?
A: Throughout my life, food had always played a huge role. I was born into the passion. While still a child, I would observe my family making meals for special occasions. The preparations would be tedious, methodical, and meticulously executed. I learned and was inspired by the precision and amount of care.

After my divorce, it was really time to decide which direction to go. I decided on attending culinary school in Pasadena. Of course I had experience baking and catering as an entrepreneur but never to the magnitude I was about to embark.

Q: We all know the food world has expanded exponentially in the past decade – it's not just a movement, it's a lifestyle. Where do you see the future of the industry going? Any trends in particular that you think may define its future?
A: I believe people are starting to make better choices overall as we become more aware of the results of eating poorly. They're not closing numerous fast food franchises for no reason.

I love all foods but have always preferred working with whole foods. I enjoy getting my hands on fresh high quality product and creating something nice. I am no angel by any means. I love my seared foie gras, braised ox tails, and anything pork. Butter is mother's milk — in moderation, of course.

Because of my interest in food, I spend time reading food-related articles and have found some that emphasize how millenials are bringing their mobile devices into the kitchen. Food is part of our daily lives from the day we are born. Technology is simply enabling people to connect, learn and share at a level like never before. With social media in particular, people are hungry for more engaging levels of interaction. The food industry is gravitating toward these higher expectations but it still has a long way to go. Success or failure in this industry will be heavily impacted by how we engage the people we serve.

Q: We're so excited to hear about your new social media platform, MiChefs Network. Tell us more about what it is and how you came up with the idea.
A: MiChefs Network is an exciting and innovative platform. It is an integration of social media and live interactive streaming. We will have the MiChefs Culinary Academy, where you can learn at your own pace; MiChefs Market for all your culinary product needs; and our shows (live or prerecorded) are 100 percent first run originals.

Our team of chefs are very well qualified and have worked in some of the best kitchens in the country. Yes, I am talking about Michelin Stars, James Beard Awards, and Forbes 5 Stars. Real Chefs. Together, with over 100 years of executive level knowledge and experience, we will bring what we know to the home cook and foodie. We have a few other unique aspects to our platform; interactive live streaming, all-inclusive culinary experience, and we are real and passionate chefs sharing our love for food in a global sense.

Q: It's no secret that food definitely brings people together. How will MiChefs Network bring people together? 
A: MiChef Network will be the conduit that connects home cooks and foodies to chefs who they would never meet in real life. It then gives these amazing chefs the opportunity to have an audience who wants to learn. MiChefs Network will simplify the process of searching for recipes, instructionals, product/equipment, and advice into one location. The social site will top things off with real-time interaction with the MiChefs Network Community so that people may trade recipes, chat with chefs on programs and with other cooks and foodies across the world.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you've faced while trying to launch a social media platform?
A: The greatest challenge I am facing realistically is money. MiChefs Network has a dedicated team of fifteen individuals who are working daily to bring our company to life. We also have partners and developers who are building our Phase I website. The passion and faith we have in MiChefs Network and the potential that this platform embodies is what has propelled it thus far.

Q: Describe one of the most challenging experiences you've faced in the kitchen as a chef.
A: Being a woman in the kitchen is interesting. I will say that it is very competitive. A lot of times men are much more fragile than women even though we are glaringly outnumbered. It is not like the shows you see on TV where the ratio is balanced. Every hotel I have worked at in Las Vegas had maybe 20- 40 chefs including sous. There would be approximately three women and I am the only one at the executive level. In a James Beard Award-winning restaurant where I worked, I was the only woman to be promoted to chef outside of their pastry department in their ten years of business. It is a tough industry for women. I really could write a book on the subject.

On the upside, I have had many influencers in my career. From my dishwasher to the regional VP of Asian Marketing for the largest gaming company in the world. There is always something to be learned from people around you. Are you brave enough to learn? Without them, I would be nothing.

Q: And the most rewarding?
A: With being a tough industry, therein lies the reward. I have worked very hard to accomplish what I have. I have made many friends. I am rich with experiences and knowledge which, I feel, are very singular. I have had many employees and sous chefs with whom I still keep in touch with. I have impacted their lives just as they have mine. I love people. With my chosen career I have met all types. I feel lucky in this respect because life is far from dull.

When you spend time conceptualizing, planning and creating food; it is the ultimate reward when you satisfy a guest with what you have made. In summary, there are many rewards.

Q: What advice do you have for women looking to break into the culinary world, or want to have a bigger presence in the kitchen? 
A: Regardless of your industry, here are my tips:

  • Figure out if you really want to do it
  • Be honest with yourself and others
  • Know your strengths & weaknesses
  • Learn how to compensate for your short comings by accentuating  your strengths
  • Never ever let anyone tell you can’t do something; you determine what you can do

For further information on MiChefs Network, visit their official website here. You can support their Indiegogo campaign here.

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Chef Trang Tran, Danni Capps Photography