2010 Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame: Peter Nguyen | Southern Foodways Alliance arrow left envelope headphones search facebook instagram twitter flickr menu rss play circle itunes calendar


Each year, the Southern Foodways Alliance celebrates men and women whose lifework enriches Southern food culture. Seven SFA awards and honors recognize these cultural standard bearers.

2010 Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame: Peter Nguyen

In 2010, Peter Nguyen was named a Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame. Peter’s family arrived in Biloxi from Vietnam, with stints in four other states, it was almost as if they came home. They had relatives who were already here, working in seafood, and despite the tensions back then between Vietnamese and White fishermen, there was a small and growing community of Vietnamese fishermen drawn by the availability of work that was familiar to them.

Peter went to school and helped his father on the boat, until he turned 18 and quit his schooling to help full time. For years, the family did well enough for Peter to support his own family. He took out loans and bought his own boat, a massive one, equipped for 6-week trips away from the family he was working to support. He started having reservations, but whatever choices he might have made, Katrina and the tightening economics of the domestic shrimp trade chose for him. Peter sold his boat and works now assisting other fishermen, translating for them, researching better technologies and methods for their businesses with the National Alliance of Vietnamese American Service Agencies.

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


Alex Raij Txikito

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