Twin Cities pastry chef Diane Moua leaves Bellecour to open her own restaurant

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Renowned Minneapolis pastry chef Diane Moua is leaving her post at Bellecour at the end of the year to begin work on her first independent restaurant.

“I’m so excited,” Moua said. The kitchen will draw on its Hmong heritage and French training and expand its culinary realm beyond baking and into savory dishes.

“It’s going to be everything – what category is it going to fall into? It goes back to my roots. Not just Hmong flavors, but also French and salty food that I can’t make at work,” he said. she stated. “When I come home and cook or when I go to my parents, I want to have pork and mustard greens. It sounds simple, but it’s what I grew up eating.”

Moua’s career began as a teenage prodigy at Tim McKee’s La Belle Vie, considered the pinnacle of fine dining at the time. Since leading the pastry team at this restaurant, she has led the Minneapolis culinary scene with a reputation as one of the best pastry chefs in the country. The new restaurant will be a return to his roots for the chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu, who also made a stopover at the very famous Solera and Aquavit.

When chef and restaurateur Gavin Kaysen moved from New York to Minnesota, Moua joined his opening team, filled with culinary heavyweights, to open Spoon and Stable in 2014.

“She was one of our first recruits here at Spoon and Stable,” Kaysen said. “It was funny, I remember she sent me a direct message on Twitter, ‘Who’s going to be your pastry chef?’ And I was in the kitchen in New York and I was like, I don’t know. Do you want to be involved? And she said yes.”

She would continue to oversee its baking program as the restaurant group grew to include Bellecour, Demi and Bellecour Bakery at Cooks of Crocus Hill, and her towering – and universally beloved – crepe cake would become a local icon. She has twice been nominated for the James Beard Award for Best Pastry Chef, a national honor.

Former Star Tribune restaurant critic Rick Nelson took note of his work at Spoon and Stable, saying that “cerebral, sculptural and unfailingly refreshing desserts are more than just meal capsules. They are ingenious balances multi-dimensional, revealing texture, temperature, and density disparities while simultaneously unlocking soft-spoken flirtations between sweet and salty.”

Moua has worked her way through the industry with the same tenacity and rock-solid work ethic instilled in her by her parents, farmers who couldn’t be more excited about their daughter’s new project. “My mother said, ‘we need to know how many vegetables to plant next year.’ I said, ‘Mom – you guys do. Don’t worry about me.’ “His dad said, ‘I can’t cook, but I can do the dishes.’

“It’s really powerful to see her explore what her passion is and to see her success,” Kaysen said.

His new restaurant is part of an ongoing conversation around Hmong cuisine that is led by the children of those who migrated here.

“There is going to be a generational change,” Moua said. “The first generation is still gardening, like my parents, but we’re going to lose that with my generation. My kids aren’t going to garden like our parents and grandparents.”

Although her new restaurant’s cuisine is not entirely Hmong, during the growing season she will use the St. Paul Hmong Farmer’s Market, a favorite shopping spot in Moua. When the seasons change, the restaurant draws inspiration from what’s fresh.

“I want to do everything. My mom’s sesame balls. I’m going to make a special weekend with my mom’s sesame balls. I can make some good sauces. I have a list of ideas,” said- she declared.

But those are the only details Moua is willing to share right now. She’s still touring restaurants in Minneapolis, and the plan is to open sometime in 2023. As for the name, restaurant hours, and what Minneapolis neighborhood she’ll land in, we’ll have to wait.

“It’s been a dream for a long time,” she said. “A few years ago, if you had asked me, I would have said I wasn’t ready. I’m ready now.”

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