Meet Yia Vang of Union Hmong Kitchen
In our most recent issue of Sprout!, we featured local chefs and their tips to enhance your summer grilling experiences. We’re back again with another feature of talented Chef Yia Vang, who some may recall as a speaker at Seward Co-op’s 2019 Annual Owner Meeting. Yia worked at many top restaurants in the Twin Cities before starting Union Hmong Kitchen. Yia also hosts Twin Cities Public Television’s food and culture series, Relish and co-hosts the podcast White on Rice. His new restaurant concept, Vinai, opening in 2021, is named after the refugee camp in Thailand where he was born. Yia believes that every dish has a narrative, and his mission for Vinai is to create a home for Hmong food that celebrates his parents’ legacy and tells his family’s story through food.
What’s Next for Yia
Until his first brick and mortar restaurant is ready, Yia and Union Hmong Kitchen are still in residency at MidCity Kitchen featuring take out, some special dine in experiences, and catering. Currently Yia is presenting a series of dinners at the St. Paul Farmer’s Market called “Vinai & Company” where he collaborates with other local chefs to create great meals. Find the details and tickets for the next event here. He recently did a series with Explore MN called “Culinary Campfire” visiting various parks around the state and cooking over fire. Yia is a full-on grilling expert and says, “my biggest piece of advice is clean your grill! The easiest time to do so is after you’ve used it and it’s still hot. Give it a good brush. You want the lovely char flavors that naturally come from the heat and the flame to add to the richness of whatever you’re grilling, not old crusty grease from last month’s (or last year’s!) meals. I always say treat the fire like it’s an ingredient, and when you think of it that way, it opens up so many possibilities.”