Chef Thach Tran (whose first name is pronounced “Ta”) first fell in love with food on the streets of his birthplace in Saigon, Vietnam. At just seven years old, Thach began washing dishes at his grandmother’s noodle restaurants, where she patiently taught him to appreciate the intricacies of good food.
When Thach was nine years old, his grandmother sold her restaurants and moved the family to the U.S., hoping to find a better life. The convenience foods that were Thach’s first introduction to American cuisine left him feeling disappointed and confused. Thach began to study Western cooking, hoping to achieve a better understanding of American cuisine.
In 2010, Thach graduated from the culinary program at Johnson & Wales University. In August of 2017, he became the executive chef of Ace Eat Serve in Uptown. The lively dining room, ping-pong hall, bar, and patio perfectly complement Thach’s creative, interactive, and authentically inspired culinary creations. At Ace, Chef Thach has the opportunity to share his passion and experience cooking both Asian and American cuisine with the Denver dining community.
What’s your earliest food memory?
My mom worked at a hotel in Vietnam and always brought home tasty pastries and French cakes.
Did your grandmother influence your decision to become a chef?
She wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer, but she inspired me to become a chef. I learned so much from the way she prepared food so lovingly for the family and always cooked amazing meals at her restaurant and at home.
How did you get your start in the restaurant industry?
I was 16 years old and needed a job, so I applied at restaurants because I felt comfortable in that environment. I started serving and then moved into the kitchen. I worked in a small seafood restaurant in Aurora and then at a barbecue spot to learn Southern food. Then I went to culinary school and entered cooking competitions, and actually earned a scholarship from a winning recipe.
How would you describe the food at Ace?
Modern Asian street food with a Southeast Asian focus.
What are some of your signature dishes?
Scallop & Shrimp X.O. Rice Pillows, Crazy Sichuan Shrimp Wontons, and new Bao Buns, plus the Tiger Wings—an Ace classic!
Is there an ingredient you use a lot that would surprise people?
We use a lot of fish sauce—five gallons a week—for our Tiger Wing sauce!
What would we find in your kitchen at home?
Crispy shallots, sesame oil, and wild black rice for cold rice salads. Plus a green food supplement powder to add to smoothies. I also have an indoor garden with herbs and veggies.
What’s your go-to snack?
Ben & Jerry’s Pistachio Pistachio ice cream.
Join Chef Thach for Ace’s annual charity event, Wings & Whiskey, on Sunday, June 10, featuring live music, whiskey cocktails and wings by some of Denver’s top chefs.
Celebrate at Ace for Pride Weekend with two events: The Gay Guerrillas Pride Kick-Off Party on Thursday, June 14, and Pride On the Patio, Friday, June 15, with drink specials and DJs.