Yia Vang was supposed to go to New York this week to visit the offices of Bon Appétit magazine.
That trip didn’t happen, of course. But it’s hard for him to be too disappointed. He just found out his food is on the cover of the next issue.
The May issue, which isn’t out on newsstands yet, is devoted to “Recipes to Transport You,” and right under that cover headline is a tantalizing, full-page photo of Vang’s Tri-Tip Steak with Tiger Bite Sauce. It’s one of the dishes Vang’s pop-up Union Hmong Kitchen is known for. And it’s a dish that embodies the flavors and techniques of the cuisine of his heritage, which he serves from a food trailer parked outside Sociable Cider Werks in northeast Minneapolis (1500 NE. Fillmore St., Mpls., 612-758-0105, unionkitchenmn.com).
Though the cover came as a surprise, the collaboration with the magazine was in the works for months, he said. In February, a team came to Minneapolis to photograph his food.
“I never thought we’d make the cover,” said Vang, who is also the host of TPT's web series "Relish."
“I’m proud that the steak is a recipe my dad taught me growing up. In a million years, I never thought that Hmong food would be in Bon Appétit magazine.”
The attention removes the sting a little from the coronavirus crisis’ impact on restaurants. After a successful Kickstarter earlier this year, Vang’s brick-and-mortar project, Vinai, is now temporarily on hold.
“I feel there are more important things right now than starting a restaurant,” Vang said. “Taking care of your family, taking care of people who are sick.”
Besides, the trailer is doing takeout like usual, only now with larger family-style meals.
“I jokingly said to one of our chefs, ‘We’re kind of built for something like this.’”