A beacon of hope

“Looking back, I don’t feel like a victim at all.”

As an opening line for the story of awardwinning restaurateur, filmmaker, boat person, writer and abuse survivor Pauline Nguyen, there couldn’t be any better. Once you start to understand the challenges she has overcome, and the enormous success she has managed to create, you’ll understand why. Nguyen doesn’t do victim. Instead, she takes some of the most confronting parts of the human experience, turns them into opportunities and then takes it on the road to help others do the same.

As the co-owner of the most awarded Vietnamese restaurant in the world (which she runs with her brother Luke and husband, chef Mark Jensen), Nguyen has proved that grit and determination can turn any start in life around. As one part of Sydney restaurant Red Lantern, she has won numerous business awards.

It was the release, however, of her very personal family memoir Secrets of the Red more than 10 years ago — documenting not only some of the family recipes that had made Red Lantern the roaring success it is, but also the abuse and tragedy of her family’s escape and early years in North Sydney — that marked her as a speaker and inspirational leader. She is a woman determined to share her message.

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