That is a definite connection, food. I see it all the time. That’s the universal connection. You don’t have to know a language to enjoy something in food.
280 Oak Street
Biloxi, MS 39533
Half a year after Hurricane Katrina, Sue Nguyen’s Le Bakery was one of perhaps four places people could get food in the devastated neighborhood of East Biloxi. And so for months, as lunchtime lines swelled with residents, volunteers, relief workers, this little Vietnamese po’ boy shop became the de facto canteen for the relief and rebuilding effort. It was a place where people could fuel themselves but also a place for the many different racial, ethnic, and economic communities of Biloxi to come together.
Before the storm, though, Sue’s shop was already playing that role. Born in San Diego to Vietnamese immigrant parents, she moved to Biloxi as a girl, growing up in kitchens – her family’s and the neighbors’, where she learned to make eggrolls and gumbos. Le Bakery is an expression of Sue’s creative and personal vision, of Vietnamese and Southern sensibilities. It’s a place where she has learned to cook and serve her mother’s recipes and a place where, connecting with her customers every day, she feels the strength of her roots in Biloxi.
Date of interview: July 27, 2008Interviewer: Francis LamPhotographer: Francis Lam