Chef de Cuisine
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2022
- First Four Seasons Assignment: current
- Soigné Hospitality (Demi, Bellecour, Spoon and Stable)
- Schoolcraft College, Livonia, Michigan, USA
- Cholet, France
- English, Hmong, French, Spanish
When Thony Yang is asked to describe his life in one word, it comes to him easily: perseverance. “You have to be patient and trust the process,” says the Chef de Cuisine at Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis. “If you keep going, you’ll eventually be rewarded. I’m a big believer in that.”
Thony’s story starts in a small town in France. When he was 10 years old, his family moved to the Twin Cities. He worked in family restaurants until he was 21 and found he had an interest in cooking. “And I was actually good at it,” he says.
The first member of his family to get a post-secondary education, he attended Schoolcraft College, then culinary school, where he graduated at the top of his class. “I was determined; there was a fire in my belly,” he says. “Culinary school opened a lot of doors for me.”
One of those doors led to Takashi Yagihashi, a renowned Chicago chef. Thony worked at his namesake Japanese-French fusion restaurant, then moved to his ramen restaurant, Slurping Turtle. Wanting to be closer to family, he started researching the Twin Cities culinary scene and found Gavin Kaysen. Though impressed with the award-winning chef, he was even more intrigued when he learned about Bellecour pastry chef Diane Moua. “She’s Hmong! I’m Hmong!” he remembers thinking. “It was cool to see another Hmong chef out there. I had to check it out.”
He set up a stage at Spoon and Stable (in which a chef spends some time working in a kitchen to see if it’s a good fit), and was hired in 2016. From there, he made his mark on all of Kaysen’s restaurants, moving to Bellecour before becoming sous chef at Demi. “It was there that I really learned to refine my skills as a cook, as a chef and even talking with guests, since it's a counter-style restaurant where we’re interacting,” he says. “It was great to learn that skill, because that’s part of why people come — you want to connect with the team that is prepping and serving your food. That type of hospitality is invaluable; you can’t pay money for that.”
In addition to the lessons in perseverance, gratitude and courage, there’s one more ingredient in Thony’s mise en place of life lessons: “Always have a sharpening stone,” he says. “Too often I find cooks prepping, slicing meat, or butchering proteins with dull knives. Nothing good comes from a dull knife.”
When he’s not at work, Thony can be found kayaking, fishing and enjoying the great Minnesota outdoors. He also loves to spend time with his wife Nubchi, their son Perry, and dog Louie.