By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It is the overnight success, 15 years in the making for Twin Cities chef Ann Ahmed. Her new restaurant, Lat 14, has been a popular reservation since it opened in late 2018.

“This is the food I grew up with,” said Ahmed, “it’s been a really proud moment.”

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Ahmed opened Lemon Grass Thai in Brooklyn Park in 2005, and has operated somewhat under the radar. “When people run into me and ask how long have you been doing this, and I’m like ’14 years’, they say, ‘Where have you been?'” she said.

Now they know about Ahmed. And soon they’ll know about her Chef de Cuisine, Josh Walbot, just named a Rising Star Chef by the Charlies, a Twin Cities restaurant award.

“I got to the stage, looked out and thought, ‘I did it, we did it,’ It was a good feeling,” said Walbot. He grew up in the Twin Cities, but went to culinary school in New York, worked under Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, opened a restaurant for him in Orlando, and then came home training under local chefs Alex Roberts and Gavin Kaysen.

He’s only 25 years old.

“After a while of cooking in the industry: French food is great, Japanese food is great, but who am I? Who am I as a chef? What am I going to cook to make as my statement to express myself really?” he asked.

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Lat 14 is a combination of both Ahmed’s and Walbot’s personal histories and professional backgrounds.

“He’s classically trained, and has been to one of the best culinary schools. I’m traditionally trained- trained in my grandmother’s and my mother’s kitchen. We’re the perfect combination of each other,” she said.

Ahmed’s family is from Laos and her husband is from Bangladesh. Walbot’s Cambodian/Thai and his wife is Filipino. All of those countries are located along the 14th latitude, hence the restaurant’s name, Lat 14.

“She opened Lemon Grass when she was young. We have the same ambitions: start-up young, keep pushing, and you’re hungry when you’re really young,” he laughed.

Lat 14 is the fusion of heart and soul and family with classic technique and intense preparation.

“Even making the rice we cook it a day in advance, so it dries out and the flavor goes in each individual grain. A lot of care goes into these dishes,” said Walbot.

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Lat 14
8815 7th Avenue North
Golden Valley, MN 55427
Hours: Lunch (Monday-Friday) 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Dinner (Sunday-Thursday) 5 p.m.-10 p.m., (Friday & Saturday) 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.; Brunch (weekends) 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Jason DeRusha