Asians comprise one of the fastest growing racial groups in Minnesota, and recent conversations in the local food scene have brought up the question, “Who owns Asian food?” Who are some of the stakeholders in our local Asian food scene? How do DNA and/or lineage factor into who cooks and represents Asian cuisines? How do you distinguish between cultural appropriation and appreciation when running a business?
These are among the issues Andrea Nguyen, a food journalist and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author will pose in a special conversation with four of Minneapolis’s most dynamic Asian chefs and restaurateurs Ann Ahmed, Owner/Executive Chef of Lat14 and Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine; Raghavan Iyer, James Beard Award winning author, chef and owner of the recently opened Pizza Karma; Hai Truong, Chef/Owner of Ngon Vietnamese Bistro and Yia Vang, Chef/Owner of Union Kitchen.
Join us for an evening of lively, honest discussion at The Lynhall as we explore how to move beyond accusations and apologies.
After the conversation, stay for an informal reception with small bites and a signing of Andrea’s new book, Vietnamese Food Any Day.
About Andrea Nguyen
A bank examiner gone astray, Andrea Nguyen is living out her dream of writing impactful books and teaching others how to cook well. She authored The Pho Cookbook, a 2018 James Beard Award winner and Wall Street Journal best seller, and edited Unforgettable, the biography cookbook about Paula Wolfert that won a 2018 International Association of Culinary Professionals award. Her sixth cookbook, Vietnamese Food Any Day, released in February 2019. Andrea has contributed to publications such as the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Lucky Peach, Food & Wine, and Cooking Light.
About Ann Ahmed
Chef Ann Ahmed’s story begins in the kitchen, helping her mother and grandmother, who escaped worn-torn Laos, cook. Chef Ahmed knew she wanted to own a restaurant ever since she was fourteen years old. In 2005, her dream came true when she opened Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine in Brooklyn Park, that serves colorful and original dishes influenced by her travels around the world. Ann quickly gained a reputation for her unique Laotian spin on traditional Thai food.
Today, Chef Ahmed opened her second restaurant, Lat14 Asian Eatery in Golden Valley. Lat14 is inspired by the cuisines and cultures of countries located on the 14th latitudinal parallel like Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines and Bangladesh. Here, it is Ann’s goal to transport Minnesotan’s to each place through their distinct flavors and dishes.
About Raghavan Iyer
Named by Epicurious.com as one of the top 100 influencers ever for home cooks in 2017 (alongside names like Julia Child and James Beard), Raghavan Iyer is the author of 6 critically acclaimed books, and has three James Beard Awards (one win and two finalists), one Emmy, and two IACP (formerly the Julia Child Awards) awards for cooking teacher of the year and a cookbook award. He is a spokesperson for many international clients and is a consultant for innumerable restaurants across the country. He has been featured numerous times in the New York Times, and is a frequent guest on The Splendid Table. He leads culinary tours yearly to the Indian subcontinent. His website is www.raghavaniyer.com
About Hai Truong
After growing up in a restaurant-owning family, Hai Truong chose a different career path out of college. But the lure of the kitchen proved an irresistible gravitational force.
In a timing-is-everything moment, the restaurant where he grew up went on the market. Then recent newlyweds, Truong and his wife, Jessica Ainsworth-Truong, bought the place and converted it to Ngon Vietnamese Bistro (“it’s like saying long, with an N,” said Truong), heralding an exciting new chapter in the Twin Cities dining scene.
What sets Ngon apart from its dozens of Vietnamese brethren across the local dining landscape is the kitchen’s melting-pot approach to cooking, a locavorian stew where French and Vietnamese traditions — and Truong’s mom’s and grandmother’s practices — intersect with the Midwestern larder.
About Yia Vang
Yia Vang uses food to tell a story and believes that every dish has a narrative. Through sourcing what’s in season and combining local traditions with those from his homeland, Yia brings Hmong flavors to American palates and invites people to change how they think about food by considering the influences in each bite.
One of six siblings, Yia was born in a refugee camp on the border of Laos and Thailand where he lived until his family resettled in central Wisconsin. He currently resides in St. Paul, MN, which is home to the largest Hmong community in the United States. Just as the Hmong are a people without a country of their own, Yia is a chef without a restaurant. You can find Yia popping up at various locations throughout the Twin Cities under the name Union Kitchen, a business which he co-founded with his cousin Chris Her.