Born to Egyptian and Chinese parents in New Zealand and raised across continents, Bobby cemented his future as a global citizen at an early age.
Bobby’s culinary story began at the age of 10, as he began to explore Asian and North African recipes in his grandmothers’ kitchens. After years of traveling around the world, a career in finance on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and a stint as a stand-up comedian, Bobby returned to his love of cooking, opening his first restaurant in Vietnam. “I accidentally became a chef,” he says. “But I was born as a traveler.”
In seeking to discover authentic flavors across the world, Bobby is now a renowned master of modern, global cuisine. This, combined with his multicultural upbringing, influenced Bobby’s own culinary style of bridging east and west.
As Bobby journeys through back alleys and five-star restaurants absorbing stories and culinary secrets, the culture and history of a region is unlocked and comes vividly alive through cooking. This journey is a lifetime education that will never stop.
Bobby’s introduction to the restaurant industry began in San Francisco, where he trained under notable chefs including Hubert Keller, Elka Gilmore and Traci des Jardins.
After succumbing to a back injury, Bobby was deemed unable to work as a chef in the state of California. He then set out on his own with a move to Vietnam in 1996, where he spent twenty years learning recipes and techniques from the masters on the streets, who had perfected a single dish through several generations.
He opened two award-winning restaurants – Restaurant Bobby Chinn in Hanoi (2001) and Bobby Chinn Saigon in Ho Chi Minh (2011) – featuring dishes with a “Bobby twist”, drawing on his classical French training and incorporating influences he has picked up in his myriad of travels.
Bobby closed both restaurants in 2014 when he relocated to London. He introduced the modern Vietnamese concept to the buzzing London restaurant scene with the launch of his restaurant House of Ho, which has since been bought by a group of private investors. Bobby is currently looking at sites for his next restaurant.
Bobby’s enthusiasm, energy and passion for food are infectious as he cooks and entertains, and through his trademark personality, he is a culinary celebrity across the globe. Bobby is currently a judge on MBC’s Top Chef Middle East, the reality culinary competitions series, which is broadcasted across the Middle East and North Africa.
He has hosted numerous other travel cookery TVs series including TLC’s World Café Asia and World Café Middle East, Bobby Chinn Cooks Asia on Discovery Network, and Discovery Travel & Living’s Detox. The shows are culinary journeys, presenting a taste of Asia through traditional street stalls, hawker centres, acclaimed restaurants, hot spots and more. Bobby has worked with some of the leading TV food personalities including Keith Floyd, Martha Stewart, Anthony Bourdain, Antony Worrall Thompson and Andrew Zimmern.
He has appeared on CNN, BBC’s Saturday Kitchen and Full on Food, Channel4 UK’s Sunday Brunch, and UKTV Food’s Great Food Live. Bobby is also a panelist for San Pellegrino’s 50 Best Restaurants Asia.