Steve Cahalan: Former refugee starts Vietnam tour business

Article written by Steve Cahalan of the La Crosse Tribune and published by the La Crosse Tribune.

Tan M. Pham, who was 12 when his family fled South Vietnam just before it fell to communist troops, has started a Vietnam food tour business.

Pham and his wife, Susan, live in La Crosse and recently started Cuisine Adventure Tours. Its first two tours in Vietnam will be Oct. 20-27 and Nov. 3-10.

Pham will lead the tours, which will include the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon) as well as small villages. Food experiences will range from restaurants to backyard garden-to-table meals, he said. Participants also will visit local markets, museums and historic sites.

Pham said his father was a firefighter in the South Vietnamese air force, his mother owned a restaurant, and the family fled South Vietnam in 1975, three days before it fell.

His family settled in Eau Claire and after a year moved to La Crosse, where Pham received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 1987. He has worked for computer software and health care businesses since then.

He, his wife and their two children have made a half-dozen trips to Vietnam. “The first time (in 2001) we didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “It turned out to be a beautiful reunion” with relatives on his mother’s side of the family, and the other people they met also were friendly, he said.