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.

Other Events:

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.

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Sunday Tea with Dr. Yang Liu from Mia
The first Sunday Tea of 2020 presented by Chinese Heritage Foundation Friends on February 16 was a fascinating scholarly exploration of what you might regard as a simple collectible object. About forty guests and members gathered at Paul Kwok’s bright and cheerful studio in the Traffic Zone galleries on North 3rd Avenue in Minneapolis.
Dream Revival 2022
June 13, 2022 – During the two days before June 14, the opening night of the revival of Dream of the Red Chamber by San Francisco Opera, some fifty of us flew into town. Many of us were here for the world premiere performance six years ago. We had come to relive that unforgettable experience, and we had brought more friends and families with us.
2022 Tim Yip Visit
In February famous designer Tim Yip (set and costume designer of Dream of the Red Chamber, presented by the San Franciscco Opera) visited Minneapolis at the invitation of Yang Liu, curator of Chinese art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, to discuss the possibility of curating an exhibit of Mia’s famous collection of ancient Chinese bronzes…
2021 Sunday Tea with David Fong’s Restaurant
In October 2021 CHFF cautiously resumed its Sunday Tea series with a hybrid program of a combined limited in-person and an online participation of a Tea with the David Fong family of the David Fong’s Restaurant in Bloomington. Eddie Fong, manager of the well-known Bloomington restaurant…
2022 Sunday Tea with Laura Chin
In May 2022 CHFF continued its hybrid presentation of its Sunday Tea series with an interview of Laura Chin, daughter of LeeAnn Chin of the famous LeeAnn Chin Restaurant. Hosted by Mary Yee….
2022 Eighteenth Open House
It is customary that the CHF open house always takes place on a bright, sunny fall day and this year proved no exception. On October 9, an enthusiastic crowd of longtime friends, as well as young new visitors gathered at Gramercy Park to celebrate our Eighteenth Annual Open House. It was wonderful to greet so many on our first post-pandemic gathering and see so many smiling faces!