Southern hospitality makes its way to Edmonds

Fat Pig BBQ opened this year in Perrinville
By Jonathan Garelick | Jul 13, 2018
Photo by: Jonathan Garelick The owner of Fat Pig BBQ, Bao Truong, with his close friend and employee Amy.

Pop quiz: what do you get when you cross a civil engineer from Vietnam with a Weber grill? The answer: Fat Pig BBQ.

Bao Truong is not the kind of guy you’d expect to be running the newest barbecue spot in town. Truong, a Vietnamese immigrant and engineer by trade, turned his hobby into a business after opening Fat Pig back in March.

His unique background, coupled with a love for food and support for his community, makes him and his business a distinct and welcome addition to Perrinville’s food scene.

A Vietnamese-American in his late 40s, Truong was born in Vietnam in the midst of the Vietnam War. He and his family made it through the war, but he said they found themselves persecuted for their religious beliefs after the communist regime took over.

“They viewed Catholic as a Western thing,” Truong said.

To the communists, Catholicism represented the forces that they had been trying to oust from their country for so many years. So Truong and his family made the decision to leave their country to avoid persecution.

They ended up in Bellingham, where Truong spent the rest of his formative years. While in high school, he got his first taste of cooking as a profession, working at a Chinese restaurant to pay the bills.

After graduation, Truong was accepted to the University of Washington, where he pursued a degree in civil engineering. He would continue on this path for the next 20 years, but the passion was not there.

“It got to the point where I was going to burn out from engineering,” he said.

Before starting Fat Pig BBQ, Truong long had a passion for food, and his culinary roots are naturally in Vietnamese cuisine. Growing up, his experience working at the restaurant in Bellingham gave him a taste for Chinese cuisine.

But it was not until after graduating college and having kids that Truong developed his love for barbecue. He and his family enjoyed going out to the local joints, but found it cost prohibitive to visit often.

“We didn’t have money to go out eating barbecue every week, so I started experimenting and learning about how to cook barbecue at home,” Truong said.

He researched recipes online to develop his own technique. People have asked what style heuses, but he said he chooses not to mimic anything that has come before him.

“I like moist, juicy ribs – good food doesn’t have to have any style.”

If anything, he says, call it “Northwest style.”

Truong’s appeal for barbecue is not limited to the food. He considers himself social, and enjoys having neighbors and their kids come over for a home-cooked meal. “Gather & Eat,” the sign below the cash register reads.

To Truong, barbecue is not just about feeding people but bringing them together, like he did when he first started on the grill.

“I have that same vision for this restaurant,” he said. “It’s a manifestation of what I was doing at home.”

In addition, Truong supports his community in many ways. He said he finds it important to keep his prices low – conservatively, they are about a third less than his competitors. He also reaches out to local schools and provides discounts for gift certificate purchases and has catered for a nearby church.

His generosity seems to be paying off, as the positive reviews keep coming in. So many, in fact, that Yelp has filtered out most of them as spam due to such a high volume in a short time.

Despite not being what one would expect from a barbecue restaurateur, Truong seems to be doing something right. Passion for food and a sense of community is one thing that transcends culture and race, and Truong is a prime example of that.

It looks like Southern hospitality has arrived in the Pacific Northwest.

Fat Pig BBQ is at 7533 Olympic View Drive, Edmonds.

 

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