Eater’s 2022 Chef of the Year is doing a KC pop-up dinner this week

Chef Yia Vang / Photo Courtesy of Vinai

Chef Yia Vang has no shortage of accolades. In 2022, he was nominated for a James Beard award in the Best Chef Midwest category and was named Eater’s Chef of the Year. Vang is also becoming a tv personality with features on Netflix’s Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend and hosting Food Network’s Stoked and Feral, a new cooking and culture series streaming on the Outdoors Channel. This week, you can experience the renowned chef’s talents for yourself during a one-time only event, a collaboration dinner at The Town Company (1228 Baltimore Ave, KCMO). 

Vang’s pop-up at The Town Co. will consist of five courses and take place this Thursday evening. Reservations can be made here for $95 per person. 

The dinner will showcase Vang’s specialty – Hmong food. Hmong cucumbers from his parent’s garden in Minneapolis, boudin with crab, chilled hangover noodles and charred cabbage with Nam prik (Thai chili sauce) are just a few examples of flavors and dishes to be expected, although the menu is subject to change.

For those unfamiliar with the cuisine, Hmong food is influenced from the countries of Laos, Thailand and Vietnam with spices, herbs and chilies prominently featured. According to the Thailand-born chef, Hmong food is innately a fusion cuisine, an amalgamation of what has been historically available to the people of these regions and an “historical archive” of how these cultures influenced each other. Therefore, Hmong is also a philosophy. 

“Wherever we go, however the land provides for us, that’s what we use,” Chef Vang says.

Vang puts his own spin on traditional Hmong dishes and ingredients, often recalling the nostalgic flavors of his childhood. 

The Hmong chef is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a city with the largest Hmong population in the US. His second restaurant Vinai is named after the Thailand refugee camp his parent’s fled to following America’s Secret War in the 1970s. Vang was also born there.  

“Vinai, to me, the restaurant, is a love letter to my mom and dad,” Vang says. “It’s a representation of them. It’s from their table.”

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