I believe in food:

Delicious, humble, wholesome food.

When I first became vegetarian at 19, I still yearned for the good stuff. Not so much the actual food, but more what that food meant – a certain flavor, a texture and that kick I’d grown accustomed to after growing up in Texas eating meals prepared by my mother, a traditional Vietnamese cook, and my father, an experimental kind of guy with a taste for fusions.

Driven by that yearning to recreate meatless versions of my childhood favorites and a passion to pursue the culinary arts, I left my nine-to-five in California for the kitchens of New York City.

I did whatever I could to get to my foot in the door. Bussing tables, hosting, serving, you name it. Eventually, my first kitchen experience began at Champs Diner, where I worked my way up from a prep cook to kitchen manager and Chef in less than a year. Moving on, I became the Executive Chef at Black Flamingo Restaurant, in Brooklyn where I had a lot of fun creating an innovative, international vegan taco menu. Before I knew it, seven years flew by and it ended up being the greatest years of my life. Years filled with challenges that pushed me beyond my limits, incredible people that I met, and the realization that I have finally discovered my calling. I learned a lot, I grew a lot, and I am so grateful for the entire experience. 

Since then I have relocated back to Long Beach, California which has always felt is home. I'm currently working on my own solo food project - The Wild Chive. We're a vegan pop-up restaurant with a residency inside the beautiful and all-things-local focused gift shop and art gallery, MADE By Millworks. You can dine with us on Sundays for Vegan Brunch from 9am-3pm and Dinner on Thursdays from 5-9pm!

240 Pine Ave. (3rd & Pine Ave.) Long Beach, CA 90802

Ultimately, I am truly inspired by global fare, locally-sourced, market fresh foods and you. I love the challenge of adding my own flair to comforting international classics and making them plant-based for everyone to enjoy. That makes my day, everyday.

- Chef Soozee