Mary was born in a small village in the Central Highlands of Di Linh, Lam Dong province some 200km north of Saigon, surrounded by nature and coffee plantations.
She began her hospitality career in Saigon working at well-known staples of the dining scene, Quan Ut Ut and The Boat House.
Mary then met Danish couple Camilla Bailey and Caspar Gustafsen who are among Saigon’s leading restaurateurs. The dynamic Danish duo arrived with incredible credentials having working at one, two and three-starred Michelin restaurants in Denmark, such as A.O.C and Geranium in Copenhagen.
Following a three-year stint running the F&B Operations at Chill Skybar and affiliated outlets, Camilla and Caspar opened the Mad House in Thao Dien with "Mad" meaning food in Danish.
Mary has become a trusted captain in their operation overseeing 70 staff members and helping them win a raft of awards, including the Urban Burger competition 2017 and Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year in 2018.
One of the highlights of Mary’s career with Mad House was a two-week trip with Camilla and Caspar back to Denmark where she immersed herself in the food, drink and hospitality culture in a country with no less than 24 Michelin-starred restaurants.
Therefore, it’s no surprise to learn that modern northern European cuisine is among her favourite with so many of these delicious dishes available at Mad House.
Indeed, I'm a huge admirer of their chicken couscous, one of the most “untouchable” dishes in Saigon.
Great customer service is a fundamental reason as to why guests continually come back to Mad House and power their success.
Here's Mary’s take:
“In my opinion, giving great customer service is hard work, challenging and fun. It’s not only just about serving great food and giving proper service, but also about sharing the character of the place, the food, the drinks, the vibes, ambiance, our people, just so many different factors.
"That means that at the end of the day, it’s all about driving the team to work together and maximising the guest experience and maintaining consistency. It’s not only just about giving as to why we do it, because we get it all back from the guest.
"When the place fills up with happy people, hearing that cheering and seeing smiles is what makes me the happiest, especially when operations all over the restaurant run smoothly, from the bar, floor, kitchen to delivery. It simply just makes me feel like we do it for a reason and makes me proud of our team”.
Mary’s greatest love is wine and she has many professional qualifications and has supplemented her knowledge with many hours of tasting with Camilla and Caspar and their trusted wine suppliers, like Red Apron and Wine Warehouse.
I’ve noticed how she has been especially active in driving the “rose revolution” for pink wine happy hours in Saigon.
The highlight of Mary’s time in Saigon was last year when she was able to meet and serve wine at Mad House for Andreas Larson who was voted Best Wine Sommelier in the World in 2007.
Given such commitment, achievement and her love of wine, it’s great to see that this was recognised with Mary becoming a partner at their new concept Mad Wine Bar on Xuan Thuy Street in Thao Dien, where their well-priced wine and cheese after work combos are becoming the stuff of legend. – Chris Thompson