In our household Thanksgiving dinner is a sacred tradition. My partner Warren insists that we only serve his mother’s New England Thanksgiving dinner. For years I’ve not strayed from her traditional menu, which includes roast turkey with oyster stuffing, orange cranberry sauce, homemade pickles, creamed peas and onions, mashed Butternut squash and turnip, and mashed potato. For dessert we routinely serve apple and pumpkin pie. At the end of the meal there’s usually rarely any apple pie left but plenty of pumpkin pie. And there’s always uncooked pumpkin left from making the pie. This year I decided to use it to make a very traditional Chinese stir-fry.
What’d you do when an opportunity comes up to meet star Chinese chefs from all over the world, and work with them in a kitchen presenting a banquet? You jump at it. That was the offer a little over a month ago from a friend at the James Beard Foundation. They needed someone who spoke Mandarin to help escort and assist the chefs from China during their gala auction and conference. I immediately agreed to volunteer. After a full month of coordinating with the foundation, I finally spent four days with the chefs last week. What follows is the story of a journey through the world of star chefs that’s harrowing, entertaining, educational and, most of all, fun.
Recently I conducted an email interview with Mitchell Davis, who is the vice president of the James Beard Foundation. The foundation in staging a three day fund raising event in New York including a Gala Dinner and Auction on November 13th, and a two-day culinary conference on November 14th and 15th. Known as Dumplings & Dynasties the event celebrates Chinese cuisine and culture. As promised, here is the full text of the interview.
In her book The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, Jennifer 8. Lee states that there are more Chinese restaurants in America than there are McDonalds, Burger Kings and Wendys combined. So why are there no outstanding Chinese restaurants in America?
Chinese American food is consistent, reliable, familiar and extremely boring. It has served the American public well and most Americans consider it comfort food. But when I yearn for good authentic Chinese food I usually end up at a small family-operated restaurant tucked away in Chinatown where the service is almost non-existent and the level of cleanliness leaves much to be desired.
In this second post of a series I am looking at trends in modern Chinese cooking that will be showcased at the James Beard Foundation’s Gala Dinner entitled Dumplings and Dynasties.
The menu for the Gala dinner is an extraordinary presentation of modern movements of Chinese cuisine globally. In my email interview with the vice president of the James Beard Foundation, Mitchell Davis, he says, “When we are dealing with immigrant cuisines, we often forget that food evolves after immigrants leave. Our increasingly global world means that chefs from all over are exposed to trends in ingredients and techniques from just about everywhere… Rather than try to recreate an old tradition, we thought it would be more interesting to see where Chinese cuisine is today. I think the chefs and the menu will do just that.”