“Food is the ultimate equalizer… at the end of the day, everybody has to eat.” – Chef Yia Vang

Typically, you won’t find the Courageous Kitchen team giving you advice on which riveting television shows you should be watching. However, that may be able to change with the exciting new arrival of a show called, “Refugee Chef”. In six episodes the show will poignantly examine the challenging origins and immense contributions refugee chefs are making on the culinary scene all over the world. This includes Chef Yia Vang, a friend of Courageous Kitchen, who we were proud to feature in last year’s Courageous Family Dinner.

Watch the trailer for “Refugee Chef” on Channel NewsAsia:

Here’s the full list of chefs to be featured on Refugee Chef:

Episode 1: Queen of Nordic Vietnamese
Featuring: Anh Le
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Origin: Chef Ang Le and her family arrived in Denmark after escaping Vietnam by boat.

Episode 2: Hmong and Here
Featuring: Yia Vang
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Origin: Chef Yia was born in a Thai refugee camp after his parents escaped Laos during the Vietnam war.

hmong refugee chef yia vang

Episode 3: Afghan at Last
Featuring: Javed Ghaderi
Location: Wollongong, Australia
Origin: Chef Javad escaped Afghanistan and would be deported three times, and spend his life savings before being resettled to Australia.

Episode 4: Beyond Bali
Featuring: Anita Saborn
Location: Paris, France
Origin: Anita’s family fled Indonesia to China where they traveled on fake passports to Paris, where they were granted political asylum.

Episode 5: Redefining Shangri-La
Featuring: Lobsang Dorjee Tsering
Location: Washington, DC
Origin: Dorjee was born to nomadic parents in Tibet, and had been a monk for 18 years before fleeing his homeland.

Episode 6: Aleppo Supper Club
Featuring: Ahmad Abo Aziz
Location: London, UK
Origin: The war in Syria brought danger and great tragedy to Ahmad and his family, and they left the city the loved looking for safety.

“People don’t see us refugees but we are there.” – Chef Anh Le

In today’s political climate, giving anything a refugee label is to condemn it to controversy and scandal. This show, however, bucks the trend and takes the weighty topic head on. In doing so the show humanizes the refugee situation in a way not always possible in today’s news headlines and sensational political commentary. We’re challenged to take a look into the lives of each of the chefs and to have a sampling of the obstacles they overcame to achieve success whether with their restaurants, efforts to challenge or their efforts to help others.

The show airs on Saturday, February 24th on Channel NewsAsia at 7:30pm Bangkok time. You can also stream the episodes on demand for free, here.


Dwight is director of Courageous Kitchen and a long term expat living in Bangkok, Thailand. A Thai speaker and astute lover of food, he enjoys teaching cooking, and using his passion for food to transform communities.