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Many diverse cultures are present throughout the twin cities area and they bring with them great foods, experiences, and businesses that enrich our communities.  Many of these business owners are learning complex regulations and food safety along with the other challenges and obligations of being a business operator.  This presentation and conversation between operators and regulators is intended to highlight those experiences and provide a framework for successfully working together to create long term sustainable solutions to common food safety challenges.

Moderated by Justo Garcia, City of Minneapolis MN

Justo is originally from Tumaco Nariño in southwestern Colombia where he lived for most of his life. He studied biology at Jorge Tadeo Lozano in Bogota University and later Food Science at the University of Minnesota. Justo currently works for the City of Minneapolis in the Health Department as a Health Inspector. Some of Justo’s work experience includes teaching science for high school students, environmental consultant for Geo-Ambiental, and Hennepin County Public health Department. He loves sharing his Spanish culture and has a passion for teaching adults. In his free time, Justo plays chess and is an avid bowler.

Miguel Zagal, Taqueria La Hacienda

Miguel was born in Morelos Mexico and moved to MN in 1995. Miguel did not have previous food handling experience before moving to Minnesota. In October of 1995 he and his wife joined the first and only Latino Market cooperative in Minnesota “The Mercado Central”. At Mercado Central, Miguel and his wife formed the first taqueria and after many years of hard work, dedication and training Miguel now is the owner of three restaurants and one food truck.

Farhiya Farah, GlobeGlow Consulting and Research Company

Farhiya Farah is the founder of GlobeGlow Consulting and Research Company in Minneapolis in charge of project execution and the quality assurance components of staff consultants. She is a public health practitioner in the environmental health field. GlobeGlow’s work focuses on applied environmental health projects and community based participatory research work. Farhiya received her Masters of Public Health from University of Minnesota and passionately promotes health equity and inclusivity in public health policies and practices.

Abdirahman Kahin, Afro Deli

Abdirahman I. Kahin “Kahin” is an African Somali descent who immigrated to Minneapolis in 1998. He worked his way up in the restaurant business and he knew for sure that one day he would achieve his dream of owning his own restaurant. With over ten years’ experience in restaurant and retail management, he started Afro Deli in 2010 Kahin has degree in Media production and Visual arts in addition he studied business Management and has three certifications from the Mini-MBA program at the University of Saint Thomas. Kahin is proud winner of the 2015 Economic Gardening Scholarship. He is also an efficient and effective manager. Today, he has established a very well-managed system for his restaurant chains. In 2016 Senator Al Franken invited Kahin to participate at the State of the Union. Al Franken said. “As a small business owner and leader in our community, Abdirahman Kahin is an excellent example of how integral people of diverse faiths and backgrounds are important to the prosperity of our state. For over five years, Afro Deli has introduced Minnesotans to delicious African and Mediterranean cuisine with an American twist, and its success is a testament to Abdirahman’s entrepreneurship”. Under Kahin’s management Afro Deli & Grill has grown to open a second location in St. Paul. Afro deli partnered with the Hudson group who operates in 70 airports worldwide as a grab and go vendor at MSP and supplies 7 stores. Kahin is soon to be opening a new restaurant in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood and Afro deli was selected to be one of the participant restaurants to serve the super bowl in 2018. Afro Deli’s success has been featured in the Star Tribune , Wall Street Journal, Minnesota Business magazine, City pages, CNN, KSTP, and WCCO

Aaron Gertz, MN Dept. of Health

Aaron began his career in aquatic invasive pest management, developing lake surveys and treatment plans for milfoil and other problematic species of plants and animals. He then spent three years teaching middle school science in the inner city. A career change brought him to the Minnesota Department of Health, where he has spent the last four years as a sanitarian in some of St. Paul’s most diverse neighborhoods. He is a member of MDH’s HACCP review team, and participates in classroom training for new sanitarians.

Jameson Liu, Hmongtown Marketplace

The concept of the HmongTown Marketplace, previously known as International Marketplace, was created from the vision of its owner, Toua Xiong. A refugee from Laos and Thailand, Xiong immigrated to the United States in 1986 in hopes of achieving the American Dream for him and his family. Xiong successfully ran a grocery store before envisioning a place where Hmong people can gather as a community and also achieve their own American dream. Opened in 2004 on what was once a lumber yard, it is now one of Minnesota’s largest indoor-outdoor Asian marketplaces; complete with 10 restaurants and over 110 vendors; sprawling over 5.86 acres of land. The HmongTown Marketplace has also been recently featured on the Travel Channel’s Bizzare Foods with Andrew Zimmern and Delicious Destinations. Return to Conference Schedule