Shawnee Mission Faces: Anourom Thomson, Strang Hall chef and proud Lao-American

Bringing friends and family together over a shared meal means everything to Anourom Thomson, a lifelong Kansas City-area chef. A 1993 graduate of SM South, Thomson studied psychology briefly at Johnson County Community College on a soccer scholarship. But after injuring his knee — and cooking for his friends at dinner parties — he switched gears and found his passion was in the culinary arts. After getting trained at JCCC and earning experience at Hereford House, he ran his own food trailer, Anousone Mobile Cuisine, at Little Piggy Food Lots (Southwest Boulevard, KCMO) before being offered the opportunity to run his own kitchen, Anousone, in the Edison District in downtown Overland Park. He brings more than 20 years of cooking experience — Lao-fusion comfort food of his own design and reminiscent of his childhood — to Strang Hall, which opened in December. When he’s not cooking or spending time with family, Thomson enjoys the outdoors, especially biking on the many trails in the metro area. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with his wife, Nikki Malomo, and their son, Champa.

The restaurant, Anousone, is named from my late brother. I was 1 year old, he was 3… I’ve had three siblings pass away in my family. But this is part of the Lao culture, it’s an underdeveloped country; basically you have a lot of kids, it’s like who’s going to take care of the parents, who’s going to do the cooking, who’s going to do the farmwork. And you don’t know who’s going to make it and who’s not going to make it. That’s the mentality of it all.