Steven Huynh: remember the name. I first met Steven when I found him on Instagram thanks to a hashtag only legit foodies know about, #eeeeeats. At first social media glance, this guy loves one thing and one thing only: food. However, take a closer look and you’ll see that he is a fashion industry veteran, working as a buyer at some of the world’s largest and most respected brands. I was intrigued.
I asked Steven a few questions to get to know the man behind the foodie pics. I’d also like to take this time to introduce Taste the Style’s new weekly feature, Fashion Foodie Friday, where we’ll be featuring incredible people (like Steven) who are fashion and food aficionados.
Take it away, Steven…
S: Director of Men’s Sportswear at Tommy Hilfiger
Tell us where you’re from
S: I was born and raised in St Louis, the Midwest. Went to college there and then moved to Philly post-college. (editor’s note: Steven is now based in NYC.)
Tell us briefly about your work background
S: I have always been in fashion. Started at Banana Republic working almost every job: visual, manager, stock, sales. From there, I got an internship at Urban Outfitters, moved up over 5 years to head up buying for the website and catalog. That was great because it was a great time to be there, started a lot of cool things like their blog and music projects. From there, I got recruited to Club Monaco and then that’s when I moved to NYC. Spent the last 5 years there as the head of men’s wear, and really worked hard to move the brand from where it was to what it is today. Recently, just joined Tommy Hilfiger as the Director of Men’s Sportswear. Sorry, I know that wasn’t too brief.
When did you become in love with the food world and what do you love most about it?
S: I guess I became in love with food at a young age. My mom always made dinner and we always ate as a family. But for me, it’s about eating together and sharing a meal with people. Growing up, my family always sat down for dinner. It didn’t matter if dad worked late, sister was at piano, or I was at practice, we always sat down as a family, turned off the TV, and shared a meal. When I moved to NYC, I found myself really just consuming food, eating on the go, or standing in front of my TV with whatever delivered to my place, and not having a real meal. That’s when I started to really become a foodie. It was a time to share, and nobody wants to share over bad food. Today, I have a standing dinner with a group of friends all within the fashion / blogging world every Wednesday.
Your 5 favorite restaurants are…
1) House of Chen – a hole in the wall Chinese restaurant by the airport in St Louis. I have been going there since I was a young lad, and the owners like to remind me that of every time we went. They knew us not by our name, but by order. It is one of the few things I crave.
2) Le Bernadin – just an amazing experience.
3) Han’s Dynasty – My girlfriend lives in Philadelphia and that is our go to. Super spicy dishes that hit the spot. Thank God they just opened one in NYC, saved me the 2 hour commute to dinner.
4) Xi-an’s Famous Food – Again, I am a sucker for spice. The lamb face salad, spicy tingly noodles, and lamb burger is the best meal for under $10 in the city
5) Lil Frankie’s – Me and my girlfriend’s date spot. Rustic Italian food and public radio make for a great combo.
Your 3 favorite dishes are…
1) Dry Pepper Intestine – Han’s Dynasty. Do yourself a favor and trust me. Spice, texture, and heat make for a great combo.
2) Double Shack Burger – Shake Shack. I do love a good burger, and a flat top burger to be exact. The flat grill builds a great crust and the burger is just what a burger should be.
3) Madagascar Vanilla Sundae with Goji Berry – Takashi. Takashi is also one of my favorite places in the city, but the Sundae is the best. It’s topped with a flake or two of eatable gold, but it’s just divine. Go for the kalbi, stay for the Sundae.
Your favorite emerging designers are…
S: It’s a tie between Baldwin out of KC Missouri and Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School; both just doing amazing stuff, and everything is an extension of their brand and belief. For them, it’s about building a brand that has style, and not about being a fashion brand.
Who do you look up to in the food industry?
S: Anthony Bourdain. I think he made it cool to enjoy whatever you were into. It’s about high and low eating, a pho spot in Vietnam where you sit on plastic stools and the bowls are washed in the streets, to 26 courses at Noma. He gave people the confidence to travel and experience culture, especially when it is not yours. I remember being a kid and reading food critic’s review… it was unattainable. Bourdain showed us that there was more to food than 4 stars and white table cloths.
Who do you look up to in the fashion industry?
S: For me, Hedi Slimane of Saint Laurent. He is able to take the polish off of high fashion. Dior Homme made black and skinny jeans haute, blended music and fashion so seamlessly. Also, I love his passion for a lifestyle brand, not just about clothing. I think with menswear, it’s not about fashion, it’s about building a lifestyle that guys want to be a part of and that they can buy into.
Do you have any personal projects in the works?
S: Working on a blog, I guess I am late in the game. But it will be a collection of cool spots in cities curated by me and some friends around the world. I hate going to Yelp or Trip Advisor for advice because you don’t know who is on the other side. At least with what I am going to start, you’ll know what you’re in for.
Sign me up to anything this dude recommends.