A Celebration of Food, Culture, Writing, and Art

I am so glad and proud that the 2016 International Youth Food Culture Contest has received outstanding entries from many countries in Asia, Europe, North America, and Africa. For the third year, the annual food-focused writing and art contest for middle and high school students witnessed the many dynamic and diverse ways that food has impacted young lives around the world.

With permissions from the writers/artists, I am sharing the following works entered at the contest:  Continue reading

Snapshots of Napa Valley

Located in Northern California about 1.5 hours from San Francisco, Napa Valley attracts tourists from far and near for its famed wineries and fascinating food. With hundreds of splendid wineries and dozens of top-rated restaurants, Napa Valley is popular among those who seek the ultimate wine and dine experience.  Continue reading

A Visit to The Culinary Institute of America

The Culinary Institute of America is well regarded as the best culinary school in the United States. I was always curious on how the school cultivated many of the world’s most successful chefs.

During a visit to The Culinary Institute of America’s California campus, I was able to find some clues.  Continue reading

2016 International Youth Food Culture Contest

On a cool summer evening two years ago, a boy I befriended at his father’s fruit stand in the farmer’s market showed me his drawing pad. Having just immigrated to the U.S. not long ago, he did not speak much English. But from the green papayas and golden rice fields he painted, I saw the world he came from.

At around the same time, a seemingly ordinary image on Food Network caught my attention: A young girl in a remote, poverty-stricken village in Southeast Asia was clinging to a picture she drew — a picture of local produce. Her face was beaming with the happiest smile. On the side of her drawing, a few words were neatly written which translated to: I love to cook. Instantly, my heart lightened up. I might not know which language this girl spoke or where her village was, but I could feel her joy, pride, and hope—the language of food is universal.  Continue reading

When Technology Comes to the Dining Table

By now, we have all become familiar with touch screen devices in airports, libraries, and other service facilities. But have you used a small screen at a restaurant table to order food, play games, and pay bills?

Today, upon arriving at the Olive Garden Restaurant in Fremont, California, I saw a cute, little device sitting on every dining table. The touch-screen device called “Ziosk” is the latest gadget that allows customers to study menus, make orders, call servers, pay bills and even play games at the tips of their fingers. I tried it for the first time. It turned out to be simple, convenient—and fun!  Continue reading

A Taiwanese Dim Sum Experience in Silicon Valley

I have long heard about Din Tai Fung, a popular international chain restaurant known for its exquisite steamed soup dumplings (“XiaoLongBao”) and other dim sum dishes. Originated from Taiwan, the chain now has many locations throughout Asia, the U.S. and Australia. The restaurants are usually situated in trendy shopping malls and bustling business centers.  Continue reading