Newsroom > DHHS News Release

September 12, 2013

Linda Sparr, Norfolk Veterans’ Home, (402) 370-3432,

NVH Food Service Worker Turns Fruit into Works of Art

Lincoln — If you have never thought of a watermelon as a work of art, you have never met Keng Hanson.

Piyarat “Keng” Hanson is a Food Service Worker at the Norfolk Veterans’ Home and so much more. Keng came to the Norfolk area by way of Thailand, where Keng earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics with emphasis in food and nutrition. In Thailand, Keng is a Certified Dietician and Certified in Food Therapy. Keng worked at a restaurant carving fruit all day prior to becoming a Dietician at the St. Louis Catholic Hospital in Bangkok, where part of her responsibilities included consulting with patients on how to cook healthier at home.

Here at the Norfolk Veterans’ Home, Keng’s talent for carving fruit and vegetables came to light when Dani Fischer, Keng’s supervisor at NVH, resigned her position to move to Arizona, and Keng presented her with a beautifully-carved watermelon that had the words “Good Luck” carved in amongst beautiful flowers. To say Dani and her coworkers were impressed would be an understatement!

Keng later carved a watermelon and a honeydew melon used as beautiful centerpieces for the Norfolk Veterans’ Home’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in June.

Keng is married to Gregg Hanson, the Madison County Veterans Service Officer. Gregg and Keng met through mutual friends, and the rest is history. Keng shyly admitted that she seemed to have a “knack” for carving fruit, but her talents with food go far beyond the edible decorations.

In addition to the Thai specialties that Keng has introduced her husband to, she makes many Chinese dishes that she learned from her mother who is a Chinese Chef. While Norfolk markets do not carry many of the special ingredients Keng likes to use, she has no problems finding what she needs in Omaha and Sioux City. When asked what her favorite American dish is Keng quickly replied “Steak, and my husband cooks it the best!” Gregg did say that she does douses hers with Tabasco Sauce.

In addition to the differences in food, Keng shared that she’d never seen snow before coming to Nebraska. When asked to describe Thailand’s weather she said they have three seasons “Hot. Very Hot. And Rainy!” Keng’s work can be seen on her Facebook page. Search for: Thai Food, Carving, Decorating and other Tantalizing Foods.

Note:  The image of Keng’s work below shows carrots as orange “carnations” and radishes as pink ”roses.” Photo courtesy of Linda Sparr.