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Hot, Dang! Thailand Native is Honored for Dang Good Food
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Shannon Madsen presents Dang with the 2023 Idaho Small Business Person of the Year award at a small ceremony at Dang’s restaurant in Hailey. PHOTO: Leisa Hollister
 
 
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Wednesday, May 10, 2023
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

It’s a testament to Dang’s popularity that his patrons began contacting Eye on Sun Valley as soon as waiters told them that their boss was going to Washington, D.C., to be honored as Idaho’s Small Business Person of the Year.

And, when he returned from the National Small Business Week awards ceremony, state officials recognized it, too, as they honored Taveesak “Dang” Chanthasuthisombut in a 90-minute ceremony at his restaurant in Hailey.

“Dang is a shining example of the resilience and determination that small business owners possess,” said Shannon Madsen, Small Business Administrator district director. “He has not only created successful businesses but has also contributed to the local community in numerous ways.”

Dang, who owns Dang Thai and the new Mr. Dee, was honored in Washington, D.C., along with representatives of 49 other states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. He took his place alongside other restaurateurs, medical clinicians, landscape company owners and other small business owners in Washington, D.C.

He was nominated for the award by Benjamin Mitchum, the Small Business Association business development officer for US Bank.

“Thank you very much,” Dang choked up, as he was honored by two dozen people in Hailey, including Mike Mathews, Idaho Deputy Chief of Staff to U.S. Sen. James Risch. “I am really happy to make food for the people, and that’s why I opened the restaurant. I love to see people enjoy my food.”

“Dang, we are so proud of you,” said Mayor Martha Burke. “We always know…when we come here, we always get the best service, the best food…and always with a smile.”

Madsen called small businesses the backbone of America’s economy--99.92 percent of Idaho businesses are small businesses, employing 45 percent of Idaho workers.

“A business like Dang’s is vital to Idaho’s backbone,” Madsen said. “In 2012 he opened his first restaurant and now in 2023 he ‘s opened another. These past four years have been particularly challenging for small businesses and yet Dang has had his best year ever.”

A native of Thailand, Dang came to the United States in 2000 to study hotel and restaurant management. But he found university studies very expensive for international students so he decided to learn how to make sushi and other dishes under Miami chefs, instead.

With seven sisters, he always saw his mother cooking and has tried to replicate many of her recipes, he said.

He first opened a restaurant on the East Coast but, tired of crime, moved to Hailey 11 years ago where he opened Dang’s Thai Cuisine and Sushi Bar on Main Steet Hailey. There he began tantalizing Wood River Valley tastebuds with such things as aromatic Kaffir leaves, a key ingredient in Thai cooking, and Thai basil, which sports an anise- or licorice-like flavor.

He survived the pandemic with the help of the Small Business Association’s Paycheck Protection Program which, he said, helped him remain open and maintain his staff.

He opened a second restaurant--Mr. Dee, a sushi-seafood-steak and martini bar--in the building that formerly housed Zou 75 sushi restaurant this year. He employs 30 workers—many of them immigrants like himself, hailing from such places as Peru, Mexico and Guatemala.

“Dang embodies the pursuit of a dream and the tenacity to achieve one’s personal and professional goals,” said Mitchum. “As a first-generation immigrant to the United States, Dang brought his hopes and dreams for what his new life would be. He set a goal to own his own restaurant within five years of arriving here and, coming from a rich food culture, he brings something special to the tables of his customers every time.

“I also admire the fact that Dang has achieved his great success while uplifting and improving the lives of his employees and those in his community.”

Eye on Sun Valley’s Marie Gallo invited Dang into her kitchen where he taught her to make a very tasty red curry chicken dish. Watch it at http://eyeonsunvalley.com/Story_Video?StoryId=6787.


 

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