Diane Yang’s Essentials


Pastry tool: My pastry chefs are my reminders, my backup; I couldn’t get anything done without them. Plus a bowl scraper and a rubber spatula. Some chefs say they’re fancy knives, but these are cheap and the most useful tools for a pastry chef.

Girls’ night out: We love Icehouse for the music and then head over to Eli’s for late-night food and drinks. We order the wings—we’re wing chicks. I’m a gimlet girl; a gin gimlet is my drink of choice.

Summer getaway: When I tell my kids that we’re heading to my parents’ farm, they get so excited they start pulling on their boots and packing up the car. They grow vegetables and have animals.

Desserts: I love, love Patisserie 46. [John Kraus] just has everything there: truffles, ice cream, bread, pastries. I love what Shawn McKenzie is doing at Burch. She makes everything fresh every day, and it’s not just cake and pie.

Farmers’ market: I love the downtown Minneapolis Farmers Market because Black Walnut Bakery is there, but I have to make a few trips to the Hmongtown Marketplace off Como. That’s where I get the foods I miss eating, like mustard greens and spicy peppers. I make a pepper sauce with those, fish sauce, and lime that I put on everything. My mom thinks I’m crazy.


Recipe for Diane Yang’s Pepper Sauce

10 Thai bird chiles
1 T. fish sauce
Szechuan peppers, to taste (optional)

Combine chiles in a bowl with pinch of salt and pinch of MSG. Muddle in a mortar and pestle until ground. Scrape into a bowl and add fish sauce. Add Szechuan peppers to taste, if using. Squeeze a wedge of lime into the mix and stir.