A Culinary Homecoming with Chef Ann at Rosewood Luang Prabang

Chef Ann is holding Pun Paa with dip. (Photo supplied)

In the enchanting backdrop of Rosewood Luang Prabang, a culinary symphony is set to unfold on 20 January, 2024, with chef Ann Ahmed. The acclaimed creative force behind Khâluna restaurant is set to venture to a homecoming dinner at Rosewood’s Great House.

In 2023, Chef Ann was honored as a semifinalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Midwest (United States), shortly before opening her latest endeavor, Gai Noi, a culinary gem featured in The New York Times’s ‘The Restaurant List 2023’, highlighting the top 50 notable restaurants across the US.

Now, she returns to her roots for a one-night-only culinary affair, bringing together her journey from the heart of Laos to America.

Ingredients for Mok. (Photo supplied)

The Homecoming Dinner, a four-course masterpiece, is not merely a culinary experience but a narrative woven with cultural threads. It will be served in a Lao-style, family-sharing format, reflecting Rosewood’s ‘A Sense of Place®’ philosophy, which invites guests to discover the rich local culture.

Named after the glutinous rice emblematic of the northern Xieng Khouang regions of Laos, Gai Noi is a homage to Chef Ann’s heritage. For this special night, she crafts a menu that reflects her return to Laos as a chef, standing side by side with her mother, bridging the gap between tradition and innovation.

The culinary odyssey begins with Mak Kall, a rare delicacy foraged from the Lao jungle, where the purplish blue-skinned fruit meets sticky rice, palm sugar, young coconut meat, and toasted sesame seeds in a perfect harmony of taste.

As the night unfolds, guests at Rosewood Luang Prabang are treated to an aromatic Bangladeshi curry, infused with a blend of traditional spices, showcasing the region’s rich culinary heritage, and served with Fresh Roti, a classic South Asian flatbread. 

The shared-style dishes that follow include Mok Nor Mai (Steamed Bamboo Shoot) with Pork Belly, using red bamboo from the mountain village, and Naap Ped (Grilled Minced Duck with Prickly Ash).

The main course is a flavor-packed selection of Laab made with grilled beef flank, Kai Pad Khing (Stir-fried Chicken with Young Ginger), and Mok Kai (Lao seaweed, sakhan spicy wood, dill, and smashed sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves and steamed), all accompanied by Gaeng Saap Ka Doke Moo (Spicy and Sour Soup with Pork Spare Ribs). 

The grand finale features a selection of fresh local fruits, Kanom Krok (Pandan Coconut Shell with Taro Filling), and Kanom Mor Tog (Deep Fried Banana and Sticky Rice).

Chef Ann Ahmed. (Photo supplied)

Chef Ann Ahmed’s culinary journey is a story that unfolds with each dish. Born in Laos and raised in America, Chef Ann Ahmed began cooking as a child, assisting her mother and grandmother in the kitchen.

Fulfilling her lifelong dream, she opened Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, in 2005. Over a decade later, she launched Lat14 Asian Eatery in Golden Valley, inspired by the cuisines and cultures along the 14th latitudinal parallel, including Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, and more.

Her third restaurant, Khâluna, meaning ‘compassion’ in Buddhism, became a community cornerstone and was recognized as one of America’s BEST 15 New Restaurants by Eaters.

The four-course Chef Ann Homecoming Dinner is served at 5:30 pm on Saturday, 20 January, 2024, at The Great House at Rosewood Luang Prabang for USD 95 per person and USD 48 for children between 6-12 years old. Prices are subject to 17 percent tax and service charges.