Jimmy Pham

Quick Facts

  • Name: Jimmy Pham
  • Born: Saigon, Vietnam, 1968
  • Migrated to Australia with his family in 1970
  • Went to school in Sydney and studied tourism
  • Established KOTO café in Hanoi which, translated, means ‘Know One Teach One’
  • Has trained more than 100 Vietnamese young people to be chefs
  • Set up a charity for children called Street Voices.


Jimmy Pham is a humanitarian, whose determination and work has changed the lives of many street kids in Vietnam.

Born in Saigon, Jimmy Pham and his family fled war-torn Vietnam in 1974 when he was two, and eventually migrated to Australia in 1980 where they began a new life in Sydney. Pham’s working life began in a late-night sandwich shop in Kings Cross but, in time, he studied tourism and became a tour guide. It was a love for travel and a passion for people that eventually saw him return to Vietnam in 1996, at the age of 24. Here he was overcome by the plight of the impoverished street children in the cities, and decided to do something about it.

Jimmy Pham was in Hanoi, Vietnam, when he opened a small café called KOTO, which means ‘Know One, Teach One’, a personal belief that is now the motto for an organisation. There, he took nine street kids and trained them in the hospitality industry. KOTO has grown rapidly in its few years of operation and annually trains up to 40 young people to be chefs, as well as bar and service staff. By equipping young people with employment and life skills, and then finding placements for them in the hospitality industry, Pham is creating an opportunity for them to change their lives and those of their families, and to move out of the poverty so prominent in Vietnam.

Founded on the inspiration of one person who was determined to make a difference in the lives of the poor in Hanoi, KOTO Hanoi is now a 120-seat restaurant, with an internationally recognised training program committed to providing employment opportunities for the street kids of Hanoi. Other Australian chefs, like Tracey Lister from Melbourne, regularly volunteer their support to help Jimmy Pham and those he trains. His restaurant has even drawn the likes of former US President Bill Clinton to its tables. World Vision, Save the Children Fund, UNESCO and a number of embassies in Hanoi assist Jimmy’s vision with funding, as does Street Voices, the charity established by Jimmy Pham in Australia to help with his work in Vietnam.

For Jimmy Pham, the greatest reward in life is to make a difference in someone’s life by helping them gain the skills to be self-sustaining and then to empower them to help others – ‘because if you Know One, then you should Teach One’. (Jimmy Pham, Street Voices) 



Giving food for thought, The Age

 KOTO website