I met Lee a while back, after a friend recommended her restaurant Yumi Asian Fusion. After eating there a couple of times, we struck up a conversation and have been friends ever since. She is the kind of person that does not meet a stranger; she is the hostess with the most-est. She is a woman of many talents: chef, mother, wedding planner, part-time matchmaker :-), and all around lovely person.

I love to talk with her, especially about healthy foods and all natural ingredients. One time when I asked questions about the sushi rice, she brought me some from the kitchen to take home to try to cook. When I told her I was not very knowledgeable about sushi, she brought me some of the best I’d ever had and taught me about it.

My favorite Yumi dishes are the Thai Pad, Yumi Beef, spicy Thai fried rice, the crab rangoon, the California rolls, the shrimp rolls…okay, I could go on and on. I go there for the food, but it’s a nice bonus to also get to chat with Lee! She kindly agreed to be interviewed for this blog and here’s what she had to say:

Yellowdaisychickchatting with Ming Ann Lee, chef at Yumi Asian Fusion

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Shanghai. I spent my earlier life in Shanghai; Pushan, South Korea; Nagoya, Japan; and Bluche, Switzerland. I am in a steady relationship and have two young daughters: An-Er Andraya (peaceful child who stands on a mountain) and An-Young Megan (child surrounded by a beautiful wave of the ocean.)

2. Where did you receive your training as a restaurateur?

I received a Bachelor’s in Food Science and a Master’s in Hospitality from Les Roches International School of Hotel Management.

3. How did you get to the US?

I was transferred from Schweizer Hotel Gaultmillau to the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, FL. I was later promoted to the Grand Hyatt in Atlanta in 2002.

4. How did you choose Newnan as a location to open Yumi Asian Fusion?

I had another location on the north side and was robbed twice at gunpoint. I chose Newnan because it was a nice, safe community to open a business.

5. What Southern foods do you like? Are there any that you dislike?

I like a light, squash casserole. I do not like grits…too rough for me.

6. I’ve already mentioned my favorite Yumi dishes. What are the most popular dishes at Yumi?

Crab Rangoon, Mongolian beef, Cali Rolls, Tuna Rolls, and Shrimp Lo Mein.

7. I love Asian flavors, especially the umami in soy sauce and the combo of sweet/salty/spicy, and the lightness of the food. What do you think makes Asian food so yumi/yummy?

We use lots of veggies which have lots of acid (bamboo shoots, scallions, baby corn, bell pepper, onion.) All of these veggies help to reduce the heavy taste of the meat. Veggies release the acid during the high cooking temperature and since everything is mixed together and served together, the taste will be balanced.

8. Who or what inspires you in the kitchen?

My mom is my hero! She is the one who has magic fingers and always has Strausse polka on when she is making food. She is a real business woman and wonderful housewife at the same time. She told me that a good chef must be good at math, logical thinking and have good fine motor skills. Also, my mentor Herr Peter Muller, who I worked for during college, taught me that professional experience + society experience = success.

9. What, if any, food shows do you watch on TV?

None. I do my own research. I have kept a notebook with restaurant menu research for 15 years.

10. What is one thing on your Bucket List?

To spend 2 hours in a Hallmark store.

11. What is most frequently played on your iPod these days?

At work, I play U2, Bon Jovi, Sting, Bob Segar. At home, I like Tchaikovsky; Ch 4 is the best ever. He is better than Beethoven to my ears.

You can find Lee most days at Yumi Asian Fusion, located at 354 Bullsboro Drive in Newnan. Check out their yummy menu at http://www.yumiasianfusion.com.