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Artful Living | Ann Ahmed North Notable

Photography by Spacecrafting

Ann Ahmed

Chef and Restaurateur

“I’m hopeful the future is going to be brighter,” says Ann Ahmed. “I have two little humans, and I want to be a part of creating a brighter future for them. I believe in being a part of that instead of sitting back and waiting for things to happen.”

The Twin Cities chef and restaurateur was sponsored to come stateside more than 30 years ago. She grew up in an intergenerational Minnesota household where the kitchen was helmed by her grandmother, who nurtured through food.

Fast-forward to spring 2020. By this time, Ahmed already had two popular restaurants to her name, Lat14 Asian Eatery and Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine. But upon traveling to Laos prior to the lockdown, she started dreaming about opening another eatery. One that felt like the Laos she visited, surrounded by chefs and artisans sharing their cuisine and culture. 

Last fall, Khâluna was born — a community restaurant that Ahmed hopes transport customers to a different place the moment they walk through the doors. The menu is full of Laotian dishes and ingredients that hark back to her childhood full of nurturing food, like the mieng paa she used to wrap with her cousins while they gossiped. 

There’s also a shop stocked with fair-trade goods she imports from Laos, including a sticky rice basket crafted by an artisan topping 100 years of age. “Sticky rice is a staple in our household, like bread for Westerners,” she explains. “And if this artisan doesn’t pass down this tradition, it will no longer be made.” She realized she could at once help keep the craft alive and share her culture with customers.

“If you’re eating my food already, then I can tell you more about my culture,” Ahmed says. “When you have chosen to come into my space, that’s a time for me to share. When we talk about it, we break down these barriers we have.”

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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