Vuong Loc was born in Vietnam where his mother was a chef. Later, as refugees from the Vietnam War, Vuong’s family landed in a camp in Malaysia for nearly two years. Then, a church group in Western Michigan sponsored his family to start their new American life in Portage, Michigan.
Vuong graduated from high school and entered Western Michigan University; he soon realized that he liked cooking more than studying and applied to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. At the CIA, Vuong met his wife, Tricia, another graduate of the class of 1998. Following graduation they moved to Florida, where Vuong went to work for The Ritz-Carlton. In 1999 they moved to Las Vegas, where Vuong worked at Aureole in the Mandalay Bay Hotel before taking a sous chef position with the Patina Group out of Los Angeles. He remained there for nearly three years, helping to open Pinot Brasserie in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.
In 2000, Vuong and Tricia returned to Michigan for a short period, but after visiting friends in Seattle, they opted to stake their claim and move west to Seattle to start a family and open their own restaurant. Loc’s daughter was born in June 2006 and in August, just two months later, they opened Portage, named after Vuong’s Michigan hometown.
Since then, the Locs have opened Pig ‘n Whistle, a bar with high-quality pub food in their neighborhood of Greenwood. If they decide to open another restaurant, Vuong says he’d like to return to his roots with upscale Vietnamese fare.