How Asian-Americans Use Food to Explore Their Identities 1

How Asian-Americans Use Food to Explore Their Identities

Ann Kim, a Korean-born chef/owner of the Minneapolis eating place Young Joni, known for its pizza, named Best Chef Midwest at the May 6, 2019, James Beard awards. As the stand-up comic Yakov Smirnoff may say, “Only in America” do Korean-born cooks win awards for Italian pizza. Young Joni opened in November 2016. Its major dining room seats 125, and its bar speakeasy within the lower back adds another 45 seats. The common take is $40 a person, and the 3 most popular dishes are Korean BBQ pizza, grilled whole fish, and saffron cauliflower.

Kim runs the eating place together with her husband Conrad Leifur, who serves as CFO and co-proprietor. And its call derives from their circle of relatives: Young, her mother’s call, and Joni, her husband’s mother’s call. When Kim was 4-years-old, she moved together with her mother and father in 1977 from Korea to Apple Valley, a suburb approximately 30 miles south of Minneapolis, to stay near her aunt and uncle. Kim defined Apple Valley back then as a “sleepy suburb with little variety.” Most of it turned into surrounded via farmland, and the general public had been Norwegian and Scandinavian. Most of the spices she grew up with at her domestic have been the basics, salt and pepper. That’s why she’d force her dad and mom to St. Paul to a Korean grocery store to buy Korean staples.


After attending Columbia University in New York, Kim returned to the Minneapolis location to pursue a career as an actor. Though she appeared with a few Guthrie Theater journeying suggests, she “spent more time hustling for greater jobs than appearing in indicates.” But one night whilst she turned into taking into account converting careers, her trusty and attentive spouse exclaimed, “Why don’t you do something that makes you glad? You light up when you’re cooking?”


Inspired by him, she examined a series of books on artisan meals and arrived at the belief that “To me, remarkable pizza is exceptional bread. I tinkered with the dough and hydration”. I then invited friends over to flavor a number of her pizza recipes.

She Googled pizza-making and wound up taking a one-week path in San Francisco in 2009 from Tony Gemignani, a professional pizza maker who owns Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. Known for getting ready wonderful Neapolitan pizza, he has become Kim’s mentor. At the school, Kim fell in love with making ready pizza in a wood-fired oven.

Kim describes her signature dish as “neo-Neapolitan pizza.” Her famous Korean BBQ pizza includes several ingredients and mozzarella cheese, marinated brief ribs, and is topped with scallions and arugula salad. The pizzas are cooked in two wood-fired ovens and a seven-foot wooden-fire grill. Kim calls it “globally-stimulated food.” She gives about a dozen exceptional styles.

In November 2010, she opened Pizzeria Lola in Minneapolis on a “bootstrap” price range using maxing her credit card. She capitalized on her second restaurant Hello Pizza in Minneapolis.Via an SBA loan and Young Joni’s with an SBA mortgage. She aims for her eating places to be “neighborhood joints first and vacation spot restaurants 2d.” Kim says a wide style of people dines at Young Joni, including community people, humans on enterprise trips, birthday celebrations, the gamut.

Since Kim turned introduced as a James Beard winner, her phone has been ringing non-forestall. Trying to avoid clichés, she cited that it’s simply a team award and that nothing inside the eating place commercial enterprise is a “singular success. The crew is the spine, and the cause why we open day in and day out is due to their tough work.” The award could be displayed on the wall of the eating place for all to peer.

How will Kim use the award to enhance business at Young Joni? “I’m digesting the value” of the award, she discovered. She’s acquired calls from private equity firms who need to make bigger her enterprise and open more locations, but she has resisted those offers to preserve manipulate. Franchising isn’t probable either, even though she recounted that starting in every other town has first-rate enchantment to her. She quipped some location heat to extricate herself from cold Minnesota winters, along with Maui or Honolulu.

At this point, Kim said she’d like the award and its’ recognition to “represent my community and convey greater human beings to this city and its culinary scene.” The award “continues to open up possibilities.” But she takes a breath and notes how she has reinvented herself numerous times as an actor turned chef/restaurateur, so who knows where the award will take her? “I sense I’ve arrived at my adventure; however,r look ahead to the subsequent one,” she stated.


I love cooking and eating food. I always look for new recipes, new foods, and new restaurants. I just love food! My goal is to post interesting and delicious food and share recipes with the world. I have a passion for all types of food; especially Asian cuisine.