Saying I Love You Through Food: Chef Ann Kim & Joanne Lee Molinaro

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

In this reprise episode, we join James Beard-award winning Chef Ann Kim and James Beard-award winning chef and author Joanne Lee Molinaro, The Korean Vegan, for conversations about identity, connection, and growing up as the children of immigrants. Both Ann Kim and Joanne Lee Molinaro share a Korean heritage and have found ways, through their various platforms to shine a light on their culture and the voices of others who share the immigrant experience. The central thread in both their stories: showing love through food.

Resources and Mentions:

Ann Kim

Ann Kim

Ann Kim is the Chef/Owner of Pizzeria Lola, Hello Pizza, and Young Joni. In 2019, Ann became the first woman and first person of color from Minneapolis to receive the James Beard Award for “Best Chef Midwest." She has been featured in the New York Times, Vogue, Forbes, Wall Street Journal and CBS Saturday’s “The Dish.”  Her newest  restaurant, Sooki & Mimi, also located in Minneapolis, is named after two grandmothers of decidedly different cultures and backgrounds. Sooki & Mimi is about both connection and contrast. James Beard award-winning chef Ann Kim explores a new pathway, trading in her much-lauded pizza crust for springy, soft tortillas. Atop this delectable base sits a deeply personal menu filled with blended culinary cues spanning Korean, Midwestern, and Latin American ingredients, to name a few.  All of this within an elegant-yet-comfortable neighborhood joint.
Joanne Molinaro

Joanne Lee Molinaro

Joanne Lee Molinaro is a Korean American woman, born in Chicago, Illinois. Her parents were both born in what is now known as North Korea. Molinaro started her blog, The Korean Vegan, in 2016, after adopting a plant-based diet. In July 2020, she started her TikTok (@thekoreanvegan), mostly as a coping mechanism for the isolation caused by the global pandemic. She began posting content related to politics and life as a lawyer during quarantine. However, after a single post of her making Korean braised potatoes for dinner (while her husband taught a piano lesson in the background) went viral, Molinaro shifted her attention to producing 60 second recipe videos, while telling stories about her family—immigrants from what is now known as North Korea.

The Korean Vegan

Through recipes, videos, cookbooks, social media and more, The Korean Vegan shares and celebrates the immigrant story in America and brings people together over food.

James Beard Foundation

A nonprofit organization whose mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone. For more than 30 years, the James Beard Foundation has highlighted the centrality of food culture in our daily lives. Through the James Beard Awardsunique dining experiences at the James Beard House and around the country, scholarships, hands-on learning, and a variety of industry programs that educate and empower leaders in our community, the Foundation has built a platform for chefs and asserted the power of gastronomy to drive behavior, culture, and policy change around food. To that end, the Foundation has also created signature impact-oriented initiatives that include the Women’s Leadership Programs aimed at addressing the gender imbalance in the culinary industry; advocacy training through its Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change; and the James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards that shine a spotlight on successful change makers.

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