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Home > NOTEWORTHY DINING > Beverly Hills Noteworthy Dining > Crustacean > Chefs' Biographies
Helene An
This year, Helene An celebrates Crustacean's 10th anniversary while her first restaurant, Thanh Long, is just a few years short of it's 40th anniversary. Helene reigns over a rapidly growing hospitality/restaurant and lifestyle empire that has been featured as one of the 250 top businesses in the U.S. operated by a woman. What an accomplishment for a woman who had neither business nor restaurant training and who thirty seven years before, fled Saigon and the Communist takeover, arriving in U.S. with nothing.

As a child and a young wife Helene An had a privileged and luxurious life. She was raised in one of Vietnam's ancient noble families – her father was an advisor to the King; as a young woman, she ran a grand household and hosted opulent banquets.

Her privileged life came to an end in April, 1975, when she had to leave Saigon with her husband, a South Vietnamese air force pilot, their three daughters and nothing else but her memories. And in those memories resided the future of the family.

Helen's father entertained lavishly in the 1930's and 40's, during the heyday of the French Colonial period; guests would include diplomats along with powerful Asian and European businessmen. When Helene was growing up her family had three chefs: French, Chinese and Vietnamese who created a cuisine that reflected the best of each culture. And young Helene observed, learned and remembered. So when she and her family arrived in San Francisco in 1975, she put her culinary heritage to work.

A few years before, a fortuitous-and impulsive-purchase determined the destiny of the An family in the U.S. Helene's mother-in-law, Diana, bought. a small deli in San Francisco's Sunset district. This tiny 20-seat deli eventually became the 170-seat Thanh Long (Green Dragon), the first An family restaurant and San Francisco's first Vietnamese eatery.

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