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Chinn, described in Anthony Bourdain's foreword as an "International Man of Mystery," is half Chinese and half Egyptian; most of his childhood was spent in San Francisco, Egypt, or London. After briefly working on Wall Street, he did stand-up comedy in Los Angeles and San Francisco and then finally realized that food and cooking were his true interests. He cooked at some of San Francisco's best restaurants, fell in love with Vietnamese food, and opened his own restaurant in Hanoi in 2001. His first cookbook is a passionate, personal introduction to Vietnamese food, with dozens of classic and contemporary recipes. He includes an introductory section on ingredients and another on essential sauces and other basics; lengthy recipe headnotes provide history and context, and the instructions are nicely detailed. There are color photographs throughout, along with stories of some of Chinn's wild exploits. With Vietnamese food becoming increasingly popular here, it's surprising how few books there are on the subject. This is recommended for most collections.