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Luke Nguyen searches for clues in his own painful past

Monday, August 17, 2015

“I was a bit scared to do this because I wasn’t sure I was going to be proud or if I’mgoing to be embarrassed or ashamed - and I have not felt embarrassed or ashamed one bit. I’ve just been so proud.” – Luke Nguyen

Celebrated chef Luke Nguyen searches a remote corner of China for his long lost family in a new episode of Who Do You Think You Are, Tuesday 18 August, 7.30pm on SBS. Luke Nguyen’s parents escaped Vietnam by boat in 1977 with nothing except their two children

and a mortar and pestle. They found refuge in Thailand, where Luke was born, before the family eventually resettled in Australia.

Luke is candid about his childhood, explaining his father was violent and volatile. Luke’s parents became successful restaurateurs in Cabramatta with Luke and his siblings expected to work in the businesses from a very early age. The focus on building a future saw no discussion of the past so Luke is unaware of his family background – including the fact he has a family in China.

As Luke begins his search into his origins he learns his maternal grandfather, Ha Lam Sanh, was also a boat person and left behind a wife and child when he migrated from China to Vietnam in 1937.

Armed with just the address from a 40 year old envelope, Luke sets off for a rural village in Guangdong Province in search for the Chinese family he never knew existed.

He nervously approaches the family reunion but is welcomed with open arms. Luke prepares an offering for his ancestors in the very kitchen his Grandfather once cooked in and is touched by the values of his Chinese family, and how much respect, honour and integrity there is.

Luke also investigates the paternal side of his family, traveling to Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. Here he uncovers another story of sacrifice and survival discovering Grandfather Nguyen Toan’s involvement in the resistance movement fighting against the French forces in the jungles north of Saigon.

Luke’s experience leaves him with a greater understanding of his family history and especially his parents and the struggles they lived through.

Season seven of Who Do You Think You Are? stars Geoffrey Rush, Toni Collette, David Wenham, Dawn Fraser, Ray Martin, Greig Pickhaver (HG Nelson) and Peter Rowsthorn. Who Do You Think You Are? is produced by Artemis International and Serendipity Productions for SBS. 

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For more information, contact Emma Losco (02) 9430 3538 || 0432 173 618