On May 18, James Beard nominee chef Yia Vang of Union Hmong Kitchen announced on Instagram that he will be appearing as a challenger chef on Netflix’s Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legendwhich will air on June 15th. Vang brought twin Cities chefs Mike Yuen and Marshall Paulsen to Los Angeles to attend the show, which he felt was an excellent opportunity to showcase Hmong cuisine on a high-quality, international platform.
“We went in and said, ‘Whatever the secret ingredient is, we’re going to play to our strengths,'” says Vang. “I said, ‘No matter what, we’ll make Hmong food.’ …Having some of Mom’s recipes in my back pocket was really cool.”
Netflix reprisals from Iron Cook comes five years after the Food Network canceled its 13th season Iron Cook America. Both series mimic the Fuji Television Network format iron cook, which first aired in Japan in 1993. Vang remembers watching the original series as a kid. “The Japanese version is so great,” says Vang. “When they presented the food, I was like, ‘Whoa, what the heck!’ I remember saying as a kid, “If that was the secret ingredient, what would I do?” Fast forward 20 years or so, here I am in the kitchen arena.”
Vang says he’s had a tremendous response since the line-up was announced, particularly from the Hmong community. He’s looking forward to the June 15 premiere – Union Hmong Kitchen staff may be hosting a watch party – but one of the biggest highlights was the get-together Iron Cook “Chairman” and martial artist Mark Dacascos. “He was one of the original action heroes I saw growing up,” says Vang. “Getting the chance to meet him — I fanboy hard.”
Travail debuts with Dream Creamery in the Northeast
The Travail Collective’s newest venture is the Dream Creamery, which opened last week in northeast Minneapolis. When Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Following the closure of MN BBQ in the same building last year, the Travail team reportedly spent some time considering possibilities for the space before hiring Nate Mickelson, a Milkjam veteran, to head up the dairy. Mickelson originally pitched the idea of a ghost kitchen to Travail, and ended up with a full-fledged ice cream shop: Expect creative, nostalgic flavors like a buttered popcorn base with chocolate and caramel, plus smash burgers and lobster rolls.
Flamin Thai crosses the river to the northeast
Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports that Flamin Thai Restaurant will be relocating from the Cedar Riverside area of Minneapolis to the former Keegan’s Irish Pub building in the Northeast. The move buys Flamin Thai 3,500 square feet of space, a notable expansion from their current location. Co-owner Mengie Sisomphan told Biz Journal that the restaurant’s expanded footprint, proximity to condos, and increased foot traffic drew her to the University Avenue area. Look for an expanded menu and a late June or early July opening.