2022 Sunday Tea with Laura Chin
by Stephanie Pomonis
Our 2nd tea featured a conversation with restaurateur Laura Chin who along with her mother, Leeann Chin, opened Leeann Chin Chinese Cuisine in 1980 and rapidly expanded their business into a successful 50-location operation.
Attendees were treated to an informal conversation between Laura Chin and CHFF board member Mary Yee, who are childhood friends, about Leeann’s career as a contemporary restaurateur. While writing her 1stcookbook, Leeann opened her 1st restaurant, Leeann Chinese Cuisine, in Minnetonka.
Leeann’s interest in food and restaurants began when as a seamstress, Leeann would often cook Chinese meals hosting her clients as a thank you for their business. Her clients began asking her to host cooking classes and cater events for them.
Laura shared with the audience that her mother’s first restaurant did not follow the traditional décor of other Chinese restaurants. Instead, the restaurant offered a museum like setting: it was painted in light colors, and decorated with framed jade pieces, Chinese pottery, and antique carvings.
Leeann’s restaurant was ahead of the wave of avant-garde restaurants that would open-up in the later 80s – early 90s and offered a buffet of numerous Chinese dishes featuring both Mandarin and Cantonese cuisine. The restaurant also served special dinners with wine pairings and celebration of holidays.
Leeann published 3 cookbooks, became a sought-after speaker & recipient of awards within the business community and started the Leeann Chin Foundation.
I would like to also highlight that, in addition to our Sunday Tea series, this past year CHFF participated in The World Festival in Blain; Minneapolis International Festival; and the Lake Phalen Harvest Moon Celebration. For these events, our talented volunteers translated names into Chinese and in beautiful calligraphy wrote the in Chinese characters on bookmarks.
We want to thank Paul Kwok for his willingness to host our Sunday Teas at his Minneapolis studio, where we are surrounded by such beautiful works of Art. We want to also thank Will Ahern who continues to volunteer his time and talent to record our Sunday Tea events, so individuals who aren’t able to attend, can view the event on the CHF website.
We are looking forward to continuing our Sunday Tea Series as well as further participation in community events. You can find the recordings of our Chinese Restaurant Sunday Tea series as well as more information about CHFF and our activities on this website.