Dianna Daoheung is the head baker at Black Seed Bagels in New York. The bagel shop in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood opened in April of 2014 and quickly became a sensation in large part due to Daoheung’s influence.
The Laotian-Thai-American first developed her culinary skills while helping her mother prepare and cook authentic Southeast Asian foods. Later on, Daoheung went to the University of Central Florida to earn a degree in social behaviors and business management. Following that, she began a four-year career in advertising strategy, but she wouldn’t be satisfied until she returned to her love of cooking.
Daoheung studied at the French Culinary Institute in Pastry Arts, which led her to Mile End to learn as a lead line cook. She then headed to San Francisco to work in pastry at Boulevard but eventually moved back to assist an expanding Mile End in developing their bread program.
It was at Mile End that Daoheung would hone the recipe for the New York/Montreal bagel mashup sold at Black Seed, which attracted a great deal of attention right from the start. It can be difficult to make a bagel stand out in New York, but Daoheung was confident from the beginning that if she created good bagels, the customers would come. “When you first open a place, you don’t know if there’s going to be a line. The only thing you can control is the quality of your food. Especially with something nostalgic like the bagel, everybody has an opinion about it,” she told Food & Wine Magazine.
Dianna Daoheung is a first-time semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Baker award.