Known for Thai Cooking, a Hmong Chef Highlights Her Native Cuisine – Fi2W on the Radio

Genevieve Vang preparing one of her traditional dishes

There is no shortage of Thai restaurants in Metro Detroit. But here’s a secret, some of the area’s most popular Thai restaurants are owned by Hmong people who are not originally from Thailand.  Hmong chef Genevieve Vang and her husband Guy opened Bangkok 96 in Dearborn Heights more than 20 years ago. A refugee from Laos who fled her home country after the Vietnam War, Vang has been widely praised for her Thai cooking.  It’s only recently that she has started to embrace her Hmong heritage in the kitchen.

At her newest location, Bangkok 96 Street Food in the Detroit Shipping Company food hall, Vang features dishes like candied beef, spicy Hmong salsas, and flavorful pizzas that pay homage to Hmong cuisine. Vang hopes the next generation of Hmong chefs will go even further than she has.  “We don’t have anything, but I think it’s good to create something that belongs to Hmong people. It is a perfect time to open a Hmong restaurant,”  Vang said.

Fi2W Food Journalism fellow Dorothy Hernandez told Vang’s story on WDET.

Read more about the Fi2W Food Journalism Fellows.

Support for the fellowship comes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) and through matching gifts from station donors, The International Association of Culinary Professionals’ foundation, The Culinary Trust, and its Growing Leaders Food Writing program. The Food Writing Program is funded with the support of the Boston Foundation.

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation, The Ford Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The J.M. Kaplan Fund, an anonymous donor and readers like you.

AboutDorothy Hernandez
Dorothy Hernandez is a Feet in 2 Worlds Food Journalism Fellow at WDET.