By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Nov 11, 2020 at 6:31 PM Photography: Lori Fredrich

The cuisine of Laos is currently having its moment in cities throughout the U.S. That’s thanks, in large part, to a new crop of young chefs who’ve made it their mission to highlight the bold, vibrant flavors of Lao fare, a cuisine which has all-too-often been eclipsed by dishes from their (larger) neighboring countries of Thailand, Vietnam and China.

Among those young chefs is Darleen Vanmanivong, an industry veteran who spent nearly a decade cooking food for other chefs before branching out to start her own restaurant, Thum.

On this week’s podcast, we chat with Vanmanivong about the food she grew up eating, the grandmother who inspired her desire to share her culture and the philosophy with which she approaches her food. Along the way, we diverge to discuss a variety of food-related topics, from whole animal butchery (and items like fish eyeballs) to the flatulent secrets of sunchokes.

Listen in!



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Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.