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Young Joni's Ann Kim features in New York Times, reveals new restaurant name

The talented chef's star continues to rise.

It's been quite a year for Ann Kim, the Minneapolis chef and restaurateur behind Young Joni, Pizzeria Lola and Hello Pizza.

Her reputation for culinary excellence is now being recognized on the national stage, as she was catapulted to fame this past May when she took home the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Midwest.

She left quite an impression on the watching food journalists, not least because she puts down her rise to prominence in the restaurant world "because 10 years ago, I said f--- fear."

The Korean born chef, who was raised in the Twin Cities suburbs, is now the subject of her own feature in the New York Times titled: "From Pizzas to Tortillas, a Midwestern Chef Defies Assumptions."

It chronicles her journey into the food world, which eventually saw her planted firmly on the United States food map when her third restaurant, Young Joni, opened in Northeast Minneapolis in late 2016.

It's the latest of several national media appearances Kim has made this year, with previous interviews and shoutouts coming in Forbes and Vogue.

Now she's got her eyes on her 4th Minneapolis eatery, taking on a different challenge from her current Italian and Asian-influenced restaurants as she produces her own take on Mexican food.

In the NYT article, she reveals for the first time that the restaurant will be called Sooki & Mimi, as it takes up residence in the former Uptown home of Lucia's, the acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant at 31st and Hennepin that closed in October 2017.

Earlier this summer, Kim said the inspiration for her Mexican experiment came from a trip to Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico, where she tasted handmade heirloom blue-corn tortillas that left her in tears.

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"I almost cried because it was unlike anything I had ever tasted," she said in a press release in July. "How could this be a corn tortilla? I had an epiphany: The difference between fresh, traditionally made tortillas and what most of us wrap around our tacos is the difference between a frozen pizza crust and the blistered, airy, charred, imperfectly round pizza crust, fragrant with hardwood smoke from a wood burning pizza oven.

"That’s when I decided my next mission is to re-create this tortilla experience."

At this stage, it's not known when the restaurant will open, though Kim told MSP Magazine that this winter or spring 2020 is a possibility.

It has its own Facebook page, but little else right now, with more details expected to be released in the coming months as it nears opening.

While the menu is being kept quiet, she did say that tortillas would feature prominently, with the kitchen being headed up by executive chef Ian Heieie, who can currently be found at Young Joni.

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