Chef Yia Vang’s Year of Triumphs, “Feral” Adventures, and Hmong Excellence


Renowned as a multi-nominated James Beard chef and EATER’s “Chef of the Year,” Yia Vang has charted a course of culinary excellence in 2023. Amidst a whirlwind of projects, including the debut season of his hit Outdoors Channel series “Feral,” a spirited appearance as a challenger on Netflix’s “Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend,” and hosting Food Network’s “Stoked,” Chef Yia Vang has emerged as a dynamic force in the culinary world.

In his Outdoors Channel series “Feral,” Chef Yia Vang fearlessly ventures into the realm of invasive and feral animal species, transforming them into delectable dishes. From pythons and iguanas to wild pigs, common carp, and lionfish, Chef Yia’s adventurous spirit takes center stage as he chases, harvests, cooks, and savors these unexpected culinary treasures.

Beyond the kitchen, Chef Yia engages in meaningful conversations on his podcast series “Hmonglish.” Exploring the intersection of Hmong and American culture, Yia invites guests for weekly discussions on topics close to their hearts, ranging from Hmong and American culture to impactful news affecting the AAPI community. Recent guests, including Sheng Elizabeth Lor, Judge Sophia Vuelo, and Tou Lo, reflect the diverse tapestry of voices contributing to this rich cultural dialogue.

As the owner/chef of the James Beard-nominated restaurant Union Hmong Kitchen, situated in Graze Food Hall in North Loop Minneapolis, Chef Yia Vang has become a pioneer in showcasing the flavors of Hmong cuisine. The restaurant, born from humble beginnings as a backyard pop-up, has grown into a culinary haven, embodying the mouth-watering essence of Hmong culinary heritage.

Looking toward the future, Yia Vang’s culinary vision extends to Vinai, slated to open in 2023 in Northern Minneapolis. This groundbreaking venture, named after one of the largest refugee camps in Thailand, aims to be the Twin Cities’ first brick-and-mortar restaurant devoted exclusively to “the past, present, and future of Hmong cooking.” Vinai, with ingredients sourced from Minnesota’s Hmong farmers, will pay homage to Chef Yia’s family legacy and tell the story of Hmong culture through its vibrant cuisine. From a communal wood-fired grill to Mama Vang’s green thumb-inspired greenery, Vinai is poised to be a true home for Hmong food, embodying the essence of family, legacy, and culinary celebration.

As Chef Yia Vang continues to leave an indelible mark on the culinary landscape, his journey unfolds as a testament to passion, cultural pride, and the transformative power of food. Stay tuned for more savory adventures as Chef Yia Vang invites us all to savor the richness of Hmong cuisine and the stories that come with it.