Meet The Maker: Chef Ann AhmedAugust 10, 2021
“I still remember the first dish I ever made. I was 14 or 15 working at my Uncle’s restaurant. He was the chef and I was the server. He decided to go somewhere and then we had a guest walk in. We didn’t even have menus yet – it was opening weekend. All of a sudden, they’re ready to order and I’m the only one there.
I jumped into the kitchen and combined all my favorite things: curry, green onion, bamboo, chicken … that was the first dish I’d ever made for sale. They said, ‘Oh my gosh, we have to come back here!’ Seeing their reaction … that was the moment I realized, I can do this.”
Talk about learning on the job. Perhaps this is why Chef Ann Ahmed, owner of the popular Southeast Asian restaurants, Lemon Grass and Lat14, swears by embracing change and being flexible.
Chef Ann’s restaurants are well-known for infusing authentic cuisine with stand-out, faraway atmospheres. Chef Ann has been working on a new restaurant set to open in South Minneapolis, Khaluna. Although COVID complicated her plans, her can-do attitude reminded her of this:
“Change is good. It’s not something we should be afraid of, it’s something we should embrace. That’s what restaurants are all about. Flexibility. Resourcefulness. All the great changes we’ve embraced have made us better. Now we’re super adaptable and know how to be on our toes every day. Whatever it is, bring it on.”
Chef Ann took her longing for traveling during the pandemic and put it into Khaluna by making it truly transportive. Chef Ann wants people to walk in and feel like they’re on a beautiful resort on the beaches of Phoquet or Northern Ching Mai.
“For two hours, you get to enjoy good conversion, immersive drinks, and an eclectic atmosphere, and feel like you don’t have to get on a plane to enjoy it.”
For those of us just getting started on our maker journey, Ann reminds us, “I’m sure you’ve had to pivot with whatever you’re doing because of the pandemic. You’re probably embracing change without knowing it. Embrace it.”
Chef Ann’s new restaurant, Khaluna, will be coming to South Minneapolis soon. In the meantime, you can enjoy her cuisine from the 14th parallel by making a reservation online at Lemon Grass or Lat14 today!