Duc was born in Saigon, Vietnam and at the age of eight, his family fled the country on a boat and ended up in refugee camps in Hong Kong and the Philippines. They eventually made it to California in 1980, where he grew up with aspirations of becoming a physician. He graduated from Yale University in Biochemistry. He then did a graduate degree in Theology and Biblical Studies at Regent College in Vancouver. He has worked as an inner-city high school teacher and an outreach social worker to the homeless population in New York City. Duc came to Ann Arbor having never set foot inside a restaurant kitchen and having had no formal culinary training. So how is he the chef at Pacific Rim?
“I am as surprised as anybody that I ended up being a chef,” Duc reflects. “I didn’t grow up wanting to be a chef nor did I enjoy cooking, but I did help my mom in the kitchen a lot.” He credits his background and upbringing in giving him an instinct for Asian food. “Helping my mom in the kitchen taught me a sense of what flavors went well together, and having lived in many places exposed me to a wide range of Asian cuisines. I guess you can say my background gave me the proper vocabulary and intuition for food.” At Pacific Rim, Duc brings together this instinct for good food with his creativity and organizational skill to create a uniquely pan-Asian menu that has garnered rave reviews from the Ann Arbor community.