Tue Nguyen, also known as @TwayDaBae, has achieved an extraordinary transformation from a little-known prep cook to a social media star with over a million followers on TikTok and Instagram.
Her viral success has now culminated in the opening of her upscale Los Angeles restaurant, Di Di, where she celebrates her Vietnamese heritage through culinary delights.
Nguyen’s journey to fame began in March 2020 when she started posting cooking videos of Vietnamese dishes on TikTok. Her easy-to-follow recipes quickly gained popularity, amassing more than 1.3 million likes for her first viral video, a simple fried rice recipe. “Food was always something that I could express myself through,” Nguyen said, using her passion for food to connect with people around the world.
While her virtual presence flourished, Nguyen dared to dream bigger. In July 2021, she hosted a two-night pop-up at Petite Taqueria restaurant, a pivotal experience that fueled her determination to connect with people through her culinary creations. The success of the pop-up caught the attention of industry experts, including John Terzian, co-founder of H.Wood Group, who was “blown away” by the event. The encounter led to the birth of the concept for Di Di, her very own restaurant.
For Nguyen, Di Di represents a culmination of her experiences, blending the techniques she learned in culinary school with the cherished taste of her mother’s cooking from Vietnam. One standout dish on the menu, honey-glazed shrimp, originated as a recipe she developed for a final project at the Art Institutes Culinary Arts School. The overwhelmingly positive reaction to this dish bolstered her confidence and made her realise her true potential as a chef.
Di Di, which opened its doors with a tropical-themed decor, aims to celebrate the culture that raised Nguyen, infusing every aspect of the restaurant with her personal touch. With a mix of professionalism gained from culinary school and the heart and soul of her heritage, Nguyen hopes to carve her place in the competitive Los Angeles gastronomic scene.
“I really view Tue and this concept as a star rising,” said John Terzian, recognising Nguyen’s incredible journey and the path she may pave for other aspiring TikTok chefs. However, Nguyen’s aspirations extend beyond social media fame; she aspires to inspire young women and entrepreneurs to follow their passions and open their own businesses.
Tue Nguyen’s story is a testament to the power of social media and the courage to pursue dreams beyond the digital realm.