“Masterchef Australia” contestant Tommy Pham wowed the judges with bún mắm, a traditional Vietnamese dish known for its pungent aroma and complex flavor.
Serving an “unapologetic” dish:
Pham, a contestant on Season 14 of the hit cooking show
, posted a clip from the show on Instagram on July 26. Bún mắm, which Pham describes as “a super funky, unapologetic, unedited Vietnamese dish,” is a thick vermicelli soup with a fermented fish or shrimp paste base.
In the clip, Pham serves the soup to judges Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo, who savor the dish in silence until, Leong, who is Chinese Australian
, silently walks over to Pham and gives him a hug as the other contestants clap in the background.
“You can smell this dish coming at you,” says Leong. “This is testament to the fact that when you don’t hold back in who you are, you will be celebrated.”
“Cooking this dish on Masterchef meant so much to me, it broke down barriers,” Pham wrote in the video’s caption. “It made me feel so proud to be Vietnamese and it gave little Tommy the validation that he should be proud of his heritage is no matter what.”
Social media reactions:
On Instagram, Pham’s clip has been viewed more than 445,000 times and received over 30,000 likes. On TikTok
, where the clip was posted on June 26, it has been viewed more than 712,000 times and received over 57,000 likes.
Commenters on both posts praised Pham for promoting both Vietnamese culture and bún mắm specifically, with many describing the dish as “underrated.”
“Bún mắm is so underrated on the Vietnamese traditional food chart!” one Instagram commenter wrote. “Everyone is talking about phở and bánh mì and bún chả (bún thịt nướng), some mention bún bò Huế or bánh canh cua, but bún mắm is usually left out.”
“This is giving me flashback to all the insecurities I had as a kid bringing Asian food to school for lunch and being made fun of by the non-aapi kids,” wrote another. “That nervous chuckle when introducing the dish hurts my soul and I am so proud of you for your bravery in embracing your culture”
“Phở is just tip of the jar, Bún Mắm is another whole level,” commented a TikTok user.
“Love this! Be proud of your culture and embrace your uniqueness!” encouraged another.