Picture it, possums. Sicily, 1923. Wait, wrong opening.
Instead, picture this. We call it "Bleak Housatonic."
A Vietnamese family comes to this country after much struggle, tragedy, and war-related travail, and ends up settling not in Orange County or in San Jose, where there are large Vietnamese communities, but in rural Massachusetts, in the Berkshires. The family opens a restaurant in order to have a livelihood, and parents and children spend all their time there, trying to make a go of the restaurant, which becomes respected and popular. One of the family's sons becomes a cook, eventually attends culinary school, and ends up working for none other than Guy Savoy.
And then, as The Berkshire Eagle reports, tragedy strikes again:
"On Oct. 20, 2004, a dump truck and an oil tanker collided near the intersection of Clarkson Road and West Housatonic Street, causing 7,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil to spill into the parking lot of the Dragon Restaurant. The accident and subsequent cleanup caused the Huynhs to close the Vietnamese eatery — which the family had operated since 1983 — for an entire year."
The mother, who was the restaurant's sole chef, "developed pneumonia that resulted in multiple bouts of headaches, coughing, fever and shortness of breath, as well as anxiety and emotional distress from inhaling the oil fumes." She never returned to work at the restaurant. In financial straits, the family was forced to sell their house, and move into an apartment near the restaurant.
The family filed suit against the trucking company, and now, two days before the world finds out whether the culinary-school graduate will win arguably the most prestigious cooking competition in the country, the brother who was forced to give up his own dreams and take over the restaurant since their elderly, infirm mother couldn't, took the stand to testify against the company that nearly ruined their lives.
And there you have the story of Hung Huynh, his brother Huy van Huynh, and his mother Thoung van Huynh.
Is that sad and soulful enough for you, Bravo? Is it feel-good and Dickensian enough to give him the title of Top Chef?