Chef Donald Berger

Chef’s Story

chef 2Donald Berger is one of the founding partners and the General Director of Don Viet JSC based in Hanoi - the capital of Vietnam for 14 years. His international experience with fine wine, food and cigars spans 34 years focusing on quality hospitality. Now the Chef/Patron of don's Bistro & Oyster Bar which has been rated in the Top 50 Restaurants in Asia, and Number 1 in Vietnam by San Pellegrino and William Reed Business Media Awards and top 10 in Vietnam by the Miele Guide. Don's is an Icon dining and entertainment destination, located on the West Lake in Hanoi. The Tay Ho area that has now become a thriving strip of boutiques, bars, bakeries and restaurants due to Donald establishing the first western dining venue in the area back in 2003 and then developed several more properties.

Prior to don’s Donald Berger set up The Vine Group as Founding Managing Director. The business scope that was developed under his direction including Vietnam’s first bona fida wine destination in the Vine Wine Boutique Bar & Café, Thai Vine and, a nation-wide import / export and distribution division based on quality wine & hospitality accessories, Hospitality Consulting, Casa Habana Cigar Shop in the Park Hyatt Saigon, Vietnam wide exclusive distributor of Cuban Cigars, the Vine Annex (an art gallery and banquet hall featuring vaulted Vietnamese artist and national treasure Mr. Fam Luc), and a public relations company; Grape Vine Image Consultants. The Vine Group successfully applied for and was awarded by Quancert an ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 certifications ( quality management and food safety based quality award) , Top Trade Service 2006 Award – Ministry of Trade of Vietnam and the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, the only International Restaurant to receive Frommer's three Stars Excellent in Vietnam and hundreds of positive domestic and international press reports.

Chef Berger a Montreal born Canadian amassed a loyal following of crème de la crème, including Presidents, Prime Ministers, Royalty, Ambassadors, CEO’s, celebrities, artists, and top dignitaries in the exciting cities of Hong Kong, Bangkok, Shanghai, Tokyo and now Hanoi. Prior to Hanoi he was the Executive Chef in charge of Beverage at the Shanghai American Club and Tokyo Capital Club. He was with the Ritz Carlton Group for nine years, opening the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong as Executive Chef, as Executive Sous Chef of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Laguna Niguel California and opened the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco as Opening Team Trainer Chef. Previous experiences included cooking in Monte Carlo with Alain Ducasse at Louis XV in the Hotel De Paris, Milan Italy with 3 star chef Gualtiero Marchesi, Banquet Chef at The Four Season’s Hotel in New Port Beach California, The Westin Hotel group in Hawaii at the Mauna Kea Beach Resort, The Los Angeles Century Plaza and Towers, the Westin Calgary where he apprenticed earning the Canadian Red and Gold Seal and Top 10% of Westin apprentices worldwide. Before apprenticing he also worked in the vineyards of Bordeaux and Bas Armagnac in France, the vineyards & fishing boats in Santorini Greece, In Harrods of London, and The Robert Trent Jones Sr. Kananiskis Golf Course in Alberta, in Toronto with the Windsor Arms group, 21 McGill as a restaurant manager and as a head cook in the Canadian Arctic with Western Geophysical. Donald Berger has organized menus, wine & cigar lists and events for Ritz Carlton Hotel Hong Kong, Shanghai American Club, Tokyo Capital Club, Press Club Hanoi, Vine Wine Bar Boutique & Café and Vine Group restaurants as well as don's Bistro.

Donald Berger founded and set up four wine import & distribution companies, namely the Warehouse, Vine, SSP and Bluebird Companies and has been responsible for creating the wine & cigar culture that is enjoyed now in Vietnam, he also brought the Pacific Cigar Company and Habanos Company to Vietnam. In November 2011 he was inducted into the Commanderie De Bordeaux.

He also founded and organized the International Wine Challenge Shanghai Great Chef’s of Shanghai Gala Dinner 1999 & 2000, and the International Wine Challenge Vietnam Gala Awards Great Chefs of Vietnam 2004 and 2007. He organized the culinary events for the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel’s World of Wines festival and the Smoker dinners, where he received Award of Merit from the Escoffier Society and is a active member of the Disciples d' Esscofier . In Vietnam he was responsible for founding and organizing with the Chairman of the International Wine Challenge Robert Joseph; the International Wine Challenge Vietnam 2002, 2003, 2004 & 2007, co-organizing for IWC Shanghai 1999 & 2000. He was also on the founding Board of the Shanghai Chef’s Association and Shanghai Chaine de Rotisseurs as Consellier Culinare responsible for the wine program. In Vietnam he is a founding member of the Hanoi Professional Chefs Club and the Vietnam Chef’s Association. The events created by Chef Berger have become legendary by those in attendance including the successful Great Chef’s charity events, numerous cigar and wine maker dinners, Ladies Epicurean dinners, Thai, French Italian, Irish, American, Canadian, Cuban, Austrian, Chilean, South African, Spanish, Australian & New Zealand Dinners, wine tastings, children’s & holiday events, guided Gourmet Wine & Dine Tour De France, many gala celebrations, and Chaine Des Rotisseur gastronomic evenings, .

Also known for his serious commitment to charity and its status as an integral part of and contributor to the community. As the Organizer of the Great Chefs of Vietnam Berger has raised over $50,000 for Agent Orange victims and sponsored funds and support for Operation Smile, Blue Dragon Foundation, Pearl S. Buck Foundation, Terry Fox Cancer Research Foundation, KOTO, Hoa Sua, ITI – International Tracoma Initiative, Hoc Mai Viet Duc Hospital. He has also assisted with much additional sponsorship for student internships, AmCham, AusCham, Can Cham, golfing events, Hanoi International Woman Association Hanoi Asian Women and Friend's Club, The Hanoi Conservatory of Music and new artists’ launches.

On the side Berger is also an accomplished amateur writer and contributor to Time Out Magazine, Golf magazine, East West magazine and a Book on Vietnam Canada Friendship, offering his insights on food, wine, Cuban cigars, Vietnam, lifestyle and travel. He has also been featured on numerous Television shows in Vietnam including Ironchef Vietnam. He is a Director on the board of Can Cham and a member of Auscham and Amcham, and a Judge on the San Pelligrino and Melie Guides.

He is recently married with a Hanoian wife,he enjoys fine wine and smoking great Cuban cigars with close friends, music, photography, walking his Dalmation with his wife and baby boy, traveling, biking and driving his 1961 Vintage Vespa around the West Lake.

More Information :

Website : www.dons-bistro.com/en/dons-bistro/

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