I was looking for my first chef to launch Transformation Table…
I met home cook extraordinaire Janice Nguyen Hudgins through my new friend Liz whom I met at the Good Business Summit in Charleston. I was looking for my first chef to launch Transformation Table and she told me about Janice. They had grown up together in Monck’s Corner, and Janice’s mom’s Vietnamese spring rolls were famous in the neighborhood. Instead of birthday cake on their birthdays, kids opted for a plate of her mother’s spring rolls.
The minute I met Janice I liked her. What I liked most about her was her food story, passion for cooking, and genuine enthusiasm for cooking for Transformation Table. Over lunch at Gnome Café, Janice shared that growing up, her extended family gathered every Sunday for dinner, and that each family member made their particular Vietnamese special dish. She also told me that she didn’t start cooking using her mother’s recipes until she was in college – she didn’t think she could do her mother’s recipes justice.
Janice created an exciting authentic Vietnamese meal while taking into consideration the variety of eating styles of our dinner guests: vegan, vegetarian, and carnivore. Janice wanted to ensure that we would all enjoy the same dishes, and she was happy to tweak the recipes. And did she.
As we started in on the fritters, we began to learn a bit more about each other. Kendrick works in IT. Peter and Shirley love going to College of Charleston basketball games. I would later attend a game with them. Liz and I adore Dolly Parton, and solidified that bond by attending a Dolly Parton concert in North Charleston. Kevin is an avid traveler and surfer. Tish also likes travel and has lived in Spain and Morocco. Ashley used to teach in Idaho.
I had questions prepared in my head just in case conversation waned. It never did.
There’s something about sitting around a dinner table that inspires community. The simple act of sharing a meal inevitably brings laughter, listening, and looking each other in the eye. Around this table on this evening, it didn’t matter who did what, who was from where, what their religion was.
We were just human beings sharing a meal. Connection
Our Hosts: Ashley & Kendrick
“When Tina asked if we would host the first Transformation Table, I was both excited and nervous. Nervous because we have a 2 year old and was worried about him running around while guests were trying to enjoy dinner. When she insisted he would be fine and that she would provide everything including a great meal, we were sold.
Tina literally transformed our dining area with her acute attention to detail. She created a relaxed environment, so when everyone arrived people felt welcomed and casually engaged in conversation before sitting down to enjoy dinner. Our chef, Janice and her husband were outstanding! Janice prepared a delicious Vietnamese meal carefully accommodating everyone’s dietary needs without compromising the wonderful flavors. I enjoyed conversing with everyone because everyone’s stories were so interesting. The conversation flowed very naturally. We laughed and just simply enjoyed one another’s company. It is truly a wonderful experience I highly recommend. Tina’s desire to bring folks from all walks of life to “The Table” is needed and deeply appreciated.”
Our Chef: Janice Nguyen
“I knew at my first meeting with Tina that I wanted to be a part of Transformation Table’s cause. I was initially nervous about being its first “chef”, being that I’m a home cook, but Tina made the process very easy. Cooking from the heart and telling my story were the key ingredients to making these dishes that were passed down from my mom. I would recommend to any chef or home cook to be a part of this transformation!”