Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anousone Phanthavong, 1972-2011

After the restaurant closed Tuesday night, our head cook, Anousone Phanthavong, was killed in a hit and run accident less than a mile from the restaurant.

The accident happened on the westbound ramp from Interstate 94 to the Riverside Avenue just after 11 p.m. 
The State Patrol says the victim, a 38-year-old man from Roseville, was filling up his car with gas on the shoulder of the ramp when he was struck. 
The unidentified motorist that struck him then fled the scene. 
There was construction in the area but authorities do not know whether that played a role in this accident. 
Anyone who may know anything about this fatal hit-and-run is asked to call the State Patrol.
Anousone was an inspired chef and a very hard worker who had lived a very difficult life. He was separated from his parents while growing up in Laos during the years of terrible unrest that followed the Vietnam War. He was reunited with his parents in this country, and is survived by both his mother and father, three sisters and a brother.

Over the years I became very close to Anousone. To me, he was the soul of True Thai, the one person I could always depend on to put quality first. Because he died so close to our restaurant, I know that his spirit will be watching over us just as he watched over our kitchen these last nine years.

True Thai would not have become True Thai without Anousone Phanthavong. He was one of our first hires and our most senior employee, starting work in November 2002, shortly after we opened our doors. In the following months the Star Tribune's Jeremy Iggers honored us for having the "Best Soup" while Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine named us one of the "50 Best Restaurants in Minnesota." These were just two of the countless accolades True Thai won because of Anousone's diligence and exceptional commitment to quality.

Anousone overcame many difficulties and challenges in his life. He was strengthened and comforted by his Theravada Buddhist beliefs. I am proud to say he was my friend, and I am terribly saddened by his passing. Anousone Phanthavong, rest in peace.

[see this post for information about the funeral arrangements]