Helene An's life has been marked by upheaval, resilience, and reinvention.
An, who grew up in French colonial Vietnam, fled to Saigon in 1955 after the Communist invasion. Twenty years later, she again had to flee her home on just an hour's notice. The mother of five daughters settled in San Francisco with her family and opened the city's first Vietnamese restaurant.
Taking skills learned as the youngest of 17 children in a family known for entertaining, An became the founder and chef behind her family's five California restaurants, including Crustacean Beverly Hills, where she's known for feeding celebrities French onion pho and lobster corn dogs and hosting Oscar parties.
Working with her daughter, Jacqueline, An shares family history and restaurant recipes in her first cookbook, "An: To Eat. Recipes and Stories from a Vietnamese Kitchen."