Hmong chef from Minnesota to compete on Netflix reboot of Iron Chef
(FOX 9) - For the last few years, Yia Vang has brought Hmong cuisine to Minnesota - first through pop-ups, then his restaurant Union Hmong Kitchen.
Soon he will be tempting taste buds around the world with his signature dishes from southeast Asia.
"In the culinary world, it's kind of like growing up and watching professional sports and as a kid you are like 'I would love to be there. I'd love to be in that stadium' and then suddenly you are there," Vang told FOX 9.
Vang will compete in Netflix's reboot of Iron Chef: Quest For An Iron Legend that is set to begin streaming on June 15.
He says he brought two fellow chefs from the Twin Cities, Mike Yuen and Marshall Paulsen, to be his sous chefs when he flew out to Los Angeles about a year ago, which he saw as an opportunity to showcase Hmong cuisine on a high profile international level.
"It was a great platform and opportunity for us to talk about Hmong people, Hmong food and we were able to use some of the recipes from my mom and dad's table," said Vang.
Vang says he grew up watching the original show, which was based in Japan, where Iron Chefs face off against challengers using a secret ingredient in their culinary creations.
He says the Hmong community is especially excited to see one of its own cook on the world stage.
"We literally had the opportunity to cook Hmong food on a global level. Got a DM from a gentleman who lives in Thailand who is Hmong. He said I'll be cheering for you in Thailand," said Vang.
It will be a big week for Vang who will also find out next week if he wins a James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest.
In the meantime, he hopes highlighting his culture's food on Iron Chef leaves viewers with an appetite for more.
"It's really cool. You just see that global reach of Iron Chef and Netflix and just to be a part of that is really a great blessing," said Vang.