Restaurateur – Chef – Author – Television Host – Gastronomic Traveller.
At the age of 23, Luke fulfilled his dream by opening his very own restaurant - Red Lantern, with his sister Pauline Nguyen and Mark Jensen. In 2012, the team opened their second restaurant, Red Lantern on Riley & Red Lily Cocktail Bar.
Luke is the author of four bestselling and award-winning cookbooks, secrets of the red lantern, the Songs of Sapa, Indochine & Luke Nguyen’s Greater Mekong.
Luke was recently inducted into the Sydney Morning Herald’s Food Hall of Fame for his cooking and travel programs, Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam & Luke Nguyen’s Greater Mekong which is televised in 150 countries.
He is judge and host for the first series of MasterChef Vietnam, 2013.
Luke has appeared in Gordon Ramsay’s Great Escape, MasterChef Australia and Destination Flavour.
Luke is Ambassador for award winning travel group APT; hosting culinary discovery trips to Vietnam, Cambodia, China & Japan.
Unlike most chefs Mark Jensen did not start working in a professional kitchen until the age of 27. "At that time I was considering a career change but didn’t know what that change might be. I had to get away and consider my options so I moved to Byron Bay. I found work as a kitchen hand, surfed in the morning and washed pots at night for 6 months. During this time I became completely enamored with restaurant life."
Mark decided that if he was going to be a successful Chef the right training would be essential. He moved back to Sydney and promptly obtained a position in Mathew Morans kitchen at the Paddington Inn Bistro. Mathew is renowned for using the freshest produce and constructing inspiring flavour combinations, always letting the produce itself take pride of place.
After three years with Matt, Mark moved to the Bennelong Restaurant - Sydney Opera House. Under the exceptional tutelage of Janni Krystis, he refined the techniques he had previously learned. "Janni is a true alchemist, He could combine ingredients and extract flavour like no other."
The time had come for Mark to make his own stand in the Sydney dining scene and he opened the dining room at the Olympic Hotel in 1995.
After many years at the stoves and many favourable reviews in the Good Food Guide, Mark was approached by his brother in-law Luke Nguyen to head up the kitchen brigade at his new restaurant, Red Lantern. He received intensive training from ’Sifu’ Li, a Vietnamese master chef and quickly became familiar with his new friends the cleaver and the wok. Red Lantern became an instant hit with Sydney’s dining public, a cool but casual dining room, fresh ingredients crafted in a traditional manner with informative service.
Mark appears regularly as guest chef on Ready Steady Cook - Network Ten. He says that "The most enjoyable part of being on Ready Steady Cook is meeting and exchanging ideas with the other talented chefs and sharing the passion of food with the contestants."
Mark has conducted cooking classes at the Sydney Seafood Food School for the last fifteen years. He is also invited regularly to hold cooking demonstrations at prestigious cooking schools and events across Australia.
After the huge success of Secrets of the Red Lantern, in which Mark, in collaboration with Luke, contributed recipes and anecdotes, he has started his own book about ethical eating, sustainability and the carbon footprint we leave through our food production - a subject he is most passionate about. Currently he is busy transforming Red Lantern to be as ’green’ as possible.
Red Lantern celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, "the work load has eased slightly. These days I try to find more balance in my life. I love spending time with my family, keeping fit through cycling and yoga and eating and drinking as much fine food and great wine as I can."
His book The Urban Cook - Cooking and Eating for a Sustainable Future is available at all good book stores.
Click here to purchase your copy.
If you would like to contact Mark, you can email him at
Pauline Nguyen, author of Secrets of the Red Lantern, is co-owner of Red Lantern, the acclaimed modern Vietnamese restaurants in Sydney’s inner-city areas of Surry Hills and Darlinghurst.
In her moving memoir, Pauline tells the honest, difficult story of the Nguyen family, following the journey of her parents from their homeland in Vietnam on their escape to Thailand as refugees, and then on to their eventual resettlement in Australia. They moved to Sydney’s most vibrant and notorious Vietnamese enclave where Pauline and her brothers grew up. A shared passion for food is at the heart of this family’s journey.
Internationally, ’Secrets of the Red Lantern’ has appeared on best sellers lists around the world, and in 2008 was voted Best Cookbook In Asia.
Pauline’s writing has appeared in The Best Australian Essays 2010, Voracious - The Best New Australian Food Writing, Griffith Review, as well as various other publications. She holds a BA in Communications at UTS and in 2008 won Newcomer Writer of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards.
Red Lantern is six-time winner of Best Asian Restaurant (Restaurant and Catering Awards)
Red Lantern has been voted in the ’Top Ten Most Environmentally Sustainable Restaurants (Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide) and placed in the Top 80 of Australian Traveller Magazine’s 100 Australian Gourmet Experiences.
In 2012, Red Lantern was voted AUSTRALIA’S FAVOURITE RESTAURANT (I LOVE Food Awards 2012) and took out the winners prize for the Telstra Australian Business Awards NSW 2012.
’The Serpent’s Table’ , a moving and progressive theatrical piece (which audience members voted ’Best show of the Sydney Festival 2014), is Pauline’s first foray into Performance Art.
Pauline is the mother of two young children and is a Business Mentor and International Speaker in her spare time.
...Pauline often has a giggle when writing about herself in third person.
CLICK HERE to order signed copies of ‘Secrets of the Red Lantern. ’Secrets of the Red Lantern’ is also available at Red Lantern restaurants and in all good book stores.
If you would like to get in contact with Pauline, you can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org