Chef & Lover of Food
Born in the Philippines, Aileen Tan began her culinary journey at a very young age working with her father, a Filipino-Chinese descent. Her father has played a large role in her career, teaching her the basics and pushing her to master fine details and balance to create dishes with meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, spices and more. “My father could be tough but he always gave me a big smile when I showed I’d learned what he had taught”, says Aileen.
Arriving in Asheville in 1994, Ms. Tan quickly found a job in the kitchen of the Radisson Hotel where she learned a lot about cooking for others in a high-energy setting. In 2000, she became Sous Chef at Bistro, Biltmore Estate and worked with talented people she genuinely admires to this day. In 2007, Aileen joined the kitchen at Cliffs Communities where she learned to plan and prepare meals for health and wellness. It was an experience that changed her life. “Cooking food that is healthy is important to me. That’s why Vietnamese cuisine is so perfect. It’s incredibly healthy and full of fresh, exciting flavors, and opening Wild Ginger was my way of bringing this wonderful, healthy culinary experience to the people of Asheville.” She is grateful to two important men, Mr. Xei Nguyen and Mr. Steven Ar who made this venture come to reality. Top on her list of favorite foods to cook and to eat is PHO – Vietnamese noodle soup with rare beef and beef broth served with fresh basil, bean sprouts and other tasty offerings.
As Aileen puts it, “I could eat pho 365 days a year and never get tired of it. Honestly, words cannot express how much I love Pho.” Today, Aileen stands proudly at the helm of her restaurant, sharing with customers her gift of Pho and many other delectable authentic Vietnamese and Asian favorites. For the citizens of Asheville and of western North Carolina, the time is now to discover the amazing treasure of Wild Ginger!