CULINASIA Explores the Future of Asian Food in America
Smithsonian Associates, The Not Old Better Show Interview Series
Welcome to The Not Old Better Show. I’m Paul Vogelzang. As part of our Smithsonian Associates Art of Living interview series, our guest today is talented business owner, writer, restauranteur, Simone Jacobson.
Since its introduction to the United States more than 150 years ago, Chinese and Asian cuisine has become an American staple. Its cooking techniques, from stir-frying and smoking to steaming and braising, have grown in popularity over the decades.
At the same time, Chinese Americans have been ridiculed, shunned, excluded, and discriminated against. Asian Americans were reportedly targeted at least 500 times in the first two months of this year, according to the advocacy organization Stop AAPI Hate, with nearly 3,800 complaints received in the past year. More than two-thirds of these complaints were of verbal harassment, while 11% involved physical assaults; and the majority of victims have been women and elderly persons.
In the COVID-19 era, anti-Asian racism and violence against Asian Americans have been widespread, and many-storied institutions—from small mom-and-pop shops to massive dim sum banquet halls—have permanently closed their doors. Why is the survival of Chinese restaurants so essential to the future of American culture and to the soul of our cities? How do we preserve the legacy of Asian food in America, and why do these efforts matter now?
Join me and our guest Simone Jacobson along with Simone’s hand-picked panel of chefs, advocates, and activists who discuss the future of Chinatowns across the country. The panelists include food writer Grace Young, a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and co-creator of Coronavirus: Chinatown Stories; Brandon Jew, chef and owner of Mister Jiu’s, Moongate Lounge, and Mamahuhu in San Francisco, and author of Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown: Recipes and Stories from the Birthplace of Chinese American Food (Ten Speed Press); Jennifer Tam and Victoria Lee, founders of Welcome to Chinatown, a grassroots initiative supporting New York City’s Chinatown businesses; Daphne Wu, co-organizer of Save Our Chinatowns, an arts and culture initiative uplifting Bay Area Chinatown communities; and Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown BID/Partnership in New York. Also on the panel are celebrity chefs and restaurateurs Jet Tila, Food Network star and chef-partner in Pei Wei Restaurant Group, and Christine Hà, the first blind contestant of “MasterChef”—and winner of its third season in 2012—and owner of The Blind Goat and Xin Chào in Houston.
This will be a wonderful series so please join me in welcoming to The Not Old Better Show, Smithsonian Associate Simone Jacobson.
My thanks to Simone Jacobson for joining us today. You’ll find links to the entire FREE 4 series programs from Smithsonian Associates on our website, along with more details. My thanks to the Smithsonian Associates team for all they do to support the show, and my special thanks to you, my wonderful Not Old Better Show audience. Please be safe, practice smart social distancing, get the vaccine, and Talk About Better. The Not Old Better Show. Thanks, everybody.
For more information about FREE tickets, please register HERE: https://www.si.edu/newsdesk/releases/free-conversation-series-culinasia-explores-future-asian-food-america