A Five-Course Dinner Series to Stop Anti-Asian Hate Comes to NYC and SF
The DC-born chef series is happening every Sunday for the month of May to coincide with AAPI Heritage Month
A poignant 2020 memory for many Asian Americans remains the first time we witnessed then-President Trump call the novel coronavirus the “Chinese virus.” At the time, the World Health Organization was cautioning everyone to avoid using the derogatory and misleading term, among others such as the “kung flu” and the “Wuhan virus.”
It was hard to fathom such an offensive term being used by a sitting U.S. President; sadly, it was also completely unsurprising. Fast-forward to the present and we can see the actual repercussions of the culture of anti-Asian hate that Trump’s words helped engender: after Trump first tweeted those words, an avalanche of posts using the hashtag #chinesevirus and other anti-Asian phrases followed, according to a peer-reviewed study published by the American Journal of Public Health.
Those words of hate spilled over into the real world, too, as the reported number of anti-Asian hate crimes skyrocketed into the thousands over the course of 2020. Among the places hit the hardest by these acts of racially motivated violence are multicultural hubs like New York City and San Francisco, with an analysis of police data by a center at the California State University at San Bernardino reporting the largest uptick in NYC.
Dinners for a Cause
Meanwhile, earlier this year in Washington, DC, a group of chefs including Kevin Tien and Tim Ma put their heads together to help the community. What they came up with was a dinner to benefit the organization Stop AAPI Hate. The dinner was such a success that it has now grown into a movement, expanding into a series that has been ongoing in the nation’s capital and is now reaching New York City and San Francisco.
After covering the dinners in DC for InsideHook and learning of Tien and Ma’s intention to bring the dinners to more cities across the country, I felt the pounding of a call to action. I told them that I would do what I could to bring the dinners to New York City, being an Asian American myself who has been watching with dismay as the elderly in our community take hit after hit for simply living. “That could be my grandmother,” I think every time I see another news story about some innocent woman being harassed or abused while going about her day.
Food is the great unifier, though, and the Chefs Stopping AAPI Dinner series not only gives New Yorkers a unique way to experience the cuisine of more than 21 of the city’s best chefs over the course of the month while giving back to the AAPI community. The proceeds for the dinners will benefit AAPI-led organizations Heart of Dinner, Apex for Youth and RISE.
Starting the month off will be a special collaboration with the team from The Tyger and the newly reopened Chinese Tuxedo. Guests who reserve a seat (try that link above) can come by on Sunday, May 2 to grab an amazing five-course dinner for two that includes Singaporean Chili Crab Fried Rice and Slow Cooked Beef Short Rib in Red Curry, as well as a mystery bottle of sake courtesy of Joy of Sake.
Every other Sunday in May, the dinners will feature a five-course dinner for two, with each dish being prepared by a different chef. This means you might be experiencing an appetizer made by the two Michelin-starred Gabriel Kreuther and a Thai entree of Coconut Crab Curry by Fish Cheeks followed by an Ube Pie from Wayan with the sweet, bright purple root famously used in Southeast Asian desserts.
“Food is something that everyone engages in, and I think more and more now, food is becoming a little more interconnected,” says Andrew Hori, a chef at Single Thread Farm in the Bay Area who is helping to bring the chef series to the West Coast. “Now you see a lot of cool things coming together in restaurant food everywhere, so I think a lot of this too, is paying a bit of an homage to the different cultures that we have been influenced by in our cooking.”
This is especially true in a city like New York, where patrons can experience the unique culmination of Japanese and Peruvian food from Llama San, the Asian influence on American cuisine from Wildair or the harmony of Italian and Japanese courtesy a la Kimika.
“It’s been amazing talking to some of the chefs and helping them come up with what to bring to their dinners. I think for a lot of people, they’re cooking things that are personal to them — dishes that are nostalgic for them, or they have very specific memories of and combine that with what they’ve taken from cooking and living in San Francisco. I’m really excited to see how people tell their stories through what they bring,” says Hori.
In San Francisco, patrons can take advantage of five-course dinners for two that will be prepped for pickup on Tuesday evenings. Hori’s Singlethread Farms is on the docket as well as a dish from boutique eatery Nightbird, California-Italian from Sorrel, and Asian-influenced Hawaiian cuisine from Liholiho Yacht Club.
“For me, it’s the eagerness and also the thoughtfulness put behind crafting to these menus,” adds San Francisco city lead Bridget Cheng, a food and travel publicist. “Just seeing the chefs come together and really try to work as a team to think about, you know, how can we take this beyond just a dinner like, what kind of impact are we having? Having these conversations was eye opening and inspirational, and I feel like this kind of format has a community feel behind it: different restaurants cooking different types of cuisines, joining together for one amazing cause.”
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