Thuy Pham is the founder and owner of Mama Dút, a vegan Vietnamese restaurant in Portland. Pham was born in Vietnam and immigrated to Portland with her family in 1982, but grew up both in Oregon and California. She attended Rose City Elementary School and Franklin High School once her family returned to Oregon. After high school, Pham went to Portland Community College and later decided to go to beauty school in order to become a hairstylist. Unable to continue work as a hairstylist amid COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, Pham started her vegan food business, Mama Dút, to support herself and her eight year old daughter. Beyond her contributions to the Vietnamese food scene, Pham is an active member of the Vietnamese and broader AAPI community and has worked with organizations including IRCO and the Asian Family Center.

In this oral history, Pham discusses dreams, legacy, and even the history of veganism in Vietnam. She begins by talking about her family’s immigration to the United States and what it was like to grow up in Portland in the eighties and nineties. She recalls childhood memories of living in her great-great uncle’s house in Halsey Square with all of her relatives and learning to recognize her family’s strength. Pham explains the importance of putting down roots for her daughter in Portland and delves into the different places that make her feel at home in the city and within the community––most notably, Vietnamese grocery stores like Hong Phat. Pham then gives the origin story of Mama Dút. Though beginning her own business was an act of survival during the pandemic, Pham expresses that sharing food and practicing veganism has allowed her to connect with her own identity as a Vietnamese woman and with the larger Vietnamese community in Portland. At the end of the interview, she speaks about how she has become involved in the community, such as volunteering with Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization and the Asian Family Center, as well as participating in local Asian American and Pacific Islander fundraisers and events.