If You’ll Indulge Me: Son Pham, The Fine Dining Chef Who Opened Singapore’s Best NY Pizza Joint
Singapore is a city with an amazing draw for many of the best chefs around the world, who fly in to take charge of the swankiest concepts and Michelin-starred establishments. Contrary to most, Chef Son Pham, who’s a seasoned chef with diverse global experience, is an interesting case — his chief trade here is as the chef-owner of a humble NY-style pizza joint.
Despite the simplicity of his pizzeria, don’t be fooled — Chef Son Pham has cut his teeth at some of the biggest names in the world including Noma, a perennial favourite in the World’s 50 Best rankings. He’d also orchestrated some of the most exquisite dining places in Hong Kong over the past decade.
But Sonny’s Pizzeria is perhaps the aptest extension of him and his nonconformist attitude. The Vietnamese-American is an avid biker who enjoys blitzing down the highway to hell while ear-blistering guitar riffs chug to the speed of the road.
While seemingly a rebellious bad boy with his (newly) gilded hair, his fine dining nous is apparent even in the humble pie he serves. Chef Son Pham does not cut corners — pizza dough is continuously tweaked to fit the customers’ palates and pepperoni is custom-made to his exacting demands.
Still, glitzy decor and snobbish haute cuisine are not crucial to his vernacular, he prefers the exciting way to do things — out of the left field. So in Singapore where artisan pizzas are sold at cut-throat prices, he decided to go against the current and roll out insanely affordable pizza, by the slice. No frills but still filled with plenty of his creative touch
As someone who called Hong Kong home for years —and continues to proclaim it as such— he’s quickly settled into our F&B scene and garnered many insights and friendships. So what has this new chapter in Singapore brought to Chef Son Pham and what is in the works?
1. Briefly introduce yourself.
Son Pham: I’m Son, a Vietnamese-American chef who has worked in a few countries, including spending a good chunk of the last decade in Hong Kong.
I don’t have that sappy story of cooking by stove top with my great nanny that somehow inspired my cooking career. Honestly, I just like to eat and cooking is an easy way to achieve my goal to eat. That’s it.
2. With the wealth of experience and culinary background, why did you choose pizza for Singapore?
Son Pham: Pizza as a dish is easily understood by most so there’s no strong requirement for PR. Other than that, it’s also low cost and covid-friendly for business should any crazy restriction make a comeback in times of uncertainty.
Plus as a proprietor and chef, it’s also easier to understand the demographics for my concept and well… Most intelligent people like pizza.
(Editor’s note: He’s talking about me. I am intelligent people.)
3. There’s always some sort of rivalry perceived between SG and HK, how would you compare the two F&B scenes?
Son Pham: Hong Kong’s F&B scene is extremely fierce and cutthroat for both owners and chefs. You have maybe about three months to prove yourself in Hong Kong or else you’ll be quickly forgotten.
Here in Singapore, it’s a tad more chill and you are afforded the time to develop a brand and improve your venues better. Having a longer average life span of restaurants here, than in Hongkong, is something that can be helpful.
4. Name Some observations of the Singapore f&b scene that you love or hate?
Son Pham: Many customers here in Singapore are actually very entitled and expect service staff to do everything for them, and even treat them like they are royalty.
Also, all the top Michelin restaurants here in Singapore are western restaurants compared to Hong Kong where there is more diversity at the top.
5. Is there any brand, f&b or otherwise, that you dream of collaborating with?
Son Pham: Personally, my dream collaborations would namely be with McDonald’s, Wildair, or Birkenstock.
(Editor’s note: McSpicy x Sonny’s Pizza when?)
6. is there a concept you’d like to bring over to SG if money wasn’t an issue?
Son Pham: I would bring over a Chinese-American-style take-out shop to Singapore!
7. As an accomplished photographer yourself, how do you feel about how other content creators have been portraying your brand?
Son Pham: I don’t mind how other people portray us since most still focus on the pizza at least and that’s the most important part. Sonny’s Pizza is supposed to be a pizza shop that’s for everyone — all ages and all mindsets.
As long as someone doesn’t come in asking for a burger, then it’s okay. End of the day, the more content that others make means the less I gotta make by myself. *laughs*
8. Describe yourself in tasting notes.
Son Pham: I would liken myself to an Espresso Martini. Lots of energy, cold, bitter, slightly sweet, but still enjoyed by most.
9. 3 favourite places in Singapore and HK?
Son Pham: My room, New Territory Park and mountains in Hong Kong and… McDonald’s.
(Editor’s note: I detect a lack of Singapore on this list….)