Supenn Harrison is the founder of the highly regarded Sawatdee restaurant. The popular eatery introduced many Minnesotans to Thai Food over 30 years ago. Today, you can find a wide variety of Asian food across the state. But that wasn’t the case when a young Supenn came to the University of Minnesota in the 70s. In fact, the international student’s host family literally turned their noses up to her traditional Thai cooking when she tired of their steak and potatoes every night and asked to make something from home.

Midwest palates eventually did develop a taste for Thai cuisine. Supenn’s egg rolls were popular with coworkers so she tried her luck with a stand at the Minnesota State Fair. They were a hit. The rest is food history. Her Sawatdee locations spread across the metro along with our love of its curries and other fragrant fare.

During the filming of her interview for the tpt/Minnesota Historical Society Press documentary Asian Flavors (based on the book by the same name) Supenn offered a soundbite that perfectly captures the cross-cultural connections found in food. She proudly stated that her ‘spring rolls sell like hot cakes!’


This story is made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.