Video by Good Astronaut
Vang was born in a Thai refugee camp, came to the United States at five years old, and eventually arrived in the Twin Cities as part of the largest urban Hmong population in the world. He cooked at Nighthawks, Borough, and Gavin Kaysen’s Spoon & Stable before starting Union Hmong Kitchen, and serves as a passionate, tireless, funny, and forgiving advocate for Hmong food as an expression of Hmong culture.
Chris was born and raised in the East side of St. Paul. After high school, he pursued a degree in accounting from the University of Minnesota Duluth. While in UMD, he found a love and passion for cooking by making dinner for his roommates and friends. After graduation, he began his career in Accounts Payable at 3M, but after a taste of the corporate world there was another taste lingering in the back of his heart…his passion for cooking. He left his office job and started working as a line cook by night and pop-up business owner by day.
Union Hmong Kitchen is a is a pop-up restaurant experience that features Hmong culture, stories, rituals, foods and flavors. We marry local traditions with those from back home in South and Eastern Asia to bring Hmong flavors to American palates. Every dish has a narrative and we look forward to sharing ours with you, through our food.
No matter where we were or what we were doing, we could hear the voice of my mom, a tiny Hmong woman, yelling for us to come to eat. My parents believed in eating at the table together for dinner. It was a time to take a pause in our lives and connect with each other. Sometimes there wasn’t much to talk about, and sometimes that was the moment my father took to give us a talking to. Regardless, the table was a big part of our family life. At the table we connected with each other and shared a meal.
Lowry Hill Meats — Lowry Hill Meats focuses on old-world skills with a culinary background. We rely on regionally sourced, ethically raised, clean, quality meats from family-owned farms.
Sitka Salmon — We are a collective of small-boat Alaskan fishermen and passionate seafood lovers. We bring southeast Alaska’s premium, wild seafood harvest directly to members of our Community Supported Fishery (CSF) in the lower 48.
The Good Acre — The Good Acre is a non-profit food hub in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. We connect and strengthen farmers, food makers, and the community through good food.
Peterson Craft Beef — Beef, pork, lamb and veal raised and marketed by the Peterson family who have been farming the rolling fields and pastures of the St. Croix Valley for four generations.
The Hmong people come from Southeast Asia (Laos, Vietnam, Thailand). They are nomadic with no country of their own, held together by their traditions, culture, art and cuisine. In the 1970s, many Hmong people left Asia for the United States after the Vietnam War, which brought Yia, Chris and their families to their new home in Minnesota.
"Vang’s food is comforting, fragrant, textured, and lively." — Growler
"The harbinger of a new era in Hmong cuisine." — Minnesota Monthly
"Vang wants to share stories about the Hmong people through food." — Public Radio International
"...it is precisely that nomadic history that makes Hmong food so special. " — Minnesota Public Radio