Former Hanoi House star chef John Nguyen was arrested last week for alleged aggravated harassment against the owner of Madame Vo, according to the New York Police Department.
Nguyen was working with Madame Vo owner Jimmy Ly as a consultant on the menu of his Vietnamese barbecue restaurant Madame Vo BBQ, opening this week, when the relationship went south. According to NYPD’s arrest report, Ly says Nguyen told him that, “I’m going to get my homeboys to cut your throat” in messages and recordings on Ly’s phone. Nguyen was arrested and charged with aggravated harassment on December 11 and awaits a court date.
Nguyen tells Eater that he was “stressed” with the opening of that and his pho shop Sai Gon Dep, opening this week in Murray Hill, and that he “was drinking” when he said those things. In a statement, the Madame Vo team says it takes “personal threats very seriously” but wishes Nguyen “all the best in his future endeavors.”
This is not Nguyen’s first brush with the law. Hanoi House owner Sara Leveen sued Nguyen in September for a temporary restraining order to keep him away from the restaurant. He also allegedly threatened Leveen and her family via text — writing, according to exhibits on the case, “Your family is next,” and “I am not leaving until I feel like I hurt your enough” — after she sent him a two-year non-compete agreement. The case has since been settled.
Nguyen is opening a pho restaurant in Murray Hill on Wednesday as co-owner, before moving to Hong Kong to work as a chef there. Ly is also opening Vietnamese barbecue restaurant Madame Vo BBQ on Wednesday.