TikTok Star Tway Nguyen Shares Her All-Time Favorite Dishes to Celebrate the Holidays
When thinking of Thanksgiving, images of roast turkey and ham or mashed potatoes and stuffing may come to mind. But for Tway Nguyen, the holidays mean lobster noodles and Peking duck.
Nguyen—also known as twaydabae to her millions of fans across social media platforms—is the new face of Buzzfeed Tasty's YouTube series Making It Big, and she's ready to make the show her own by introducing viewers to (supersized!) Vietnamese cuisine.
Through her partnership with Del Monte pineapple products, we were excited to talk to Nguyen about the importance of spotlighting Vietnamese foods in the popular YouTube series. Here's what she had to say about the recipe that launched her career, her No. 1 tip for hosting during the holidays and more.
EatingWell: In your partnership with Del Monte, you shared that you prefer canned pineapple over fresh. Why is that?
Nguyen: When I get a fresh pineapple, it sits on the counter for days until it goes bad and I have to throw it away. When I buy canned pineapple, it obviously stays fresh longer. It's shelf-stable, and it's conveniently already cut for you, so I prefer canned over fresh because there's just so many more pros than cons.
EatingWell: With the holidays coming up, can you share any tips for cooking or hosting?
Nguyen: During the holidays, my family doesn't celebrate the traditional Thanksgiving or the traditional Christmas meal because it's just not in our culture. We don't have turkeys over in Vietnam, so I didn't grow up eating like that. When we came over to America, we would just eat what we wanted to eat on the holidays. We would have lobster noodles, Peking duck, things that are celebratory foods. What I want people to take from this is that you don't have to stick to the traditional route. Make what you want to make, and make it exciting for your guests. When your guests are coming over for Thanksgiving, they're expecting turkey, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese—and all of that is great. But imagine if you show up with a sushi platter? That would be amazing.
EatingWell: While you make much more complex recipes now, your first video was a simple sausage-and-egg fried rice recipe, which launched your cooking career. Why do you think that recipe resonated with people?
Nguyen: It was easy and attainable to do. I didn't have to dry-age the meat! It wasn't complicated, and it made people feel like they could do it too. I feel like that's why it went viral the way that it did because it was so attainable.
EatingWell: Your TikTok bio reads "Celebrating culture through my plates." As the new host of Buzzfeed's Making It Big, how important was it to start the new season off with a Vietnamese recipe?
Nguyen: It was so, so important to me, and it just made all the difference for my audience to see that, because in all of the seasons of Making It Big before me, it has always been big, American foods. So for me coming in, my first thought was, "How can we make some big, giant Vietnamese food?" It was really cool because Buzzfeed really championed that and supported my ideas, so that gave me the confidence to start it off with a banh mi, and then make a giant egg roll and then all of the Asian foods. I feel like a lot of people think Asian food is complicated as is, so adding the element of making big Asian foods is definitely something to watch.
EatingWell: What does eating well mean to you?
Nguyen: I have two definitions. First, eating well is eating foods that make my body feel great. Foods that make me feel like I'm fueling my body and not just eating food to survive. My second definition is that eating well is a luxury. Getting dessert is eating well to me because growing up, I wasn't allowed that luxury of eating dessert. It was one entree, and that was it. Being able to get that dessert I want makes me feel like I'm eating well.
We so appreciate Nguyen's desire to share foods she's passionate about with her growing audience, and we can't wait to see the places she goes. Check out the season premiere of Making It Big for more inspiration and to follow along with where her food adventures take her.