After cooking at her family's restaurant for 20 years, Nina Wong struck out on her own with Chin Dian Caf? in 2005. Her new restaurant swiftly accumulated loyal fans, who'd crowd the dining room ordering their favorites and sampling dish after dish. And while it's not uncommon for diners to request to-go bags for their leftovers, at Chin Dian Caf?, servers started reporting something unexpected: customers wanted to take home bottles upon bottles of Chef Wong's sauces. Her signature ginger syrup got raves, her black stir-fry sauce was applauded, and her dumpling sauce was poured into handbags by the spoonful.
Chef Wong heard their enthusiasm?and answered it by creating her own line of syrups and sauces. But the more ambitious home chefs among her fan base were still not satisfied and wanted to learn her recipes. That's how she came to open Nina Wong Cooking Studio, where she now teaches enrollees to craft spring rolls and other dishes in her hands-on classes.
When she’s not hosting radio shows, serving meals at local shelters, or blogging for Minneapolis St. Paul magazine's Foodie File, Le Cordon Bleu–trained chef Marianne Miller helms Saga Hill Cooking & Events. She describes her style as "audacious, yet feminine," adding, "my preparations are often bold, but with a light-handed approach that brings out the natural flavors in each dish." Alongside her staff, she leads culinary classes and parties that shy from incorporating fad kitchen gadgets or diets. Instead, their goal is to teach practical, science-based cooking techniques that can help students prepare simple meals, gourmet treats, or decadent brown-bag lunches.