The Future Of Asian Food In America: A Free Series Of Virtual Conversations

Asian American Farmers Look Back to Go Forward

Join the Culinasian series of virtual conversations presented by Smithsonian Associates (Photos: Courtesy of Smithsonian Associates)
By Rachel Duffell

By Rachel Duffell

May 04, 2021

Smithsonian Associates will present a series of online talks in May and June exploring Asian cuisine and its role in the lives of people in America

The ‘Love Our People Like You Love Our Food’ campaign came about earlier this year in response to a surge in anti-Asian racism across the United States, and it was a reflection of the power of Asian cuisine and its role in America’s food culture.

To explore the role of Asian food in America––and its future, Smithsonian Associates is collaborating with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Freer Gallery of Art & Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, to present Culinasia, a four-part series that will see chefs, food writers, food entrepreneurs, home cooks and cookbook authors, among others, discuss a variety of topics relating to Asian food in America, past, present and future.

The four talks, which take place virtually via Zoom in May and June, are listed below.

Related: Asia’s Most Influential: The Tastemakers List 2021

Saving Chinatown and Our Legacies
Saving Chinatown and Our Legacies with (clockwise from top left) Grace Young, Brandon Jew, Daphne Wu, Wellington Chen, and Jennifer Tam and Victoria Lee (Photo: Courtesy of Smithsonian Associates)

The Covid-19 pandemic and the anti-Asian racism and violence that has followed in its wake have had a profound impact on the Asian restaurant scene in America. Yet the survival of these restaurants is essential to the preservation of America’s Asian food culture.

Food writer Grace Young; chef Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu’s in San Francisco; Jennifer Tam and Victoria Lee, founders of Welcome to Chinatown, a grassroots initiative supporting Chinatown business in New York City; Daphne Wu, co-organiser of arts and culture initiative Save Our Chinatowns; and Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown BID/Partnership in New York discuss.

Wednesday 5 May, 6.30pm ET (Thursday 6 May 6.30am HKT)

Southeast Asia Got Something to Say
Southeast Asia Got Something to Say with (clockwise from top left) Jet Tila, Christine Hà, Pepper Tiegen and Genevieve Villamora (Photo: Courtesy of Smithsonian Associates)

The F&B industry around the world has suffered as a result of Covid-19. In this discussion, Asian chefs and restaurateurs share how they are surviving the challenges brought about by both the pandemic and the anti-Asian racism that has come with it.

Jet Tila, Food Network star and chef partner in Pei Wei Restaurant Group; and Christine Hà, MasterChef winner and its first blind contestant, who is also owner of The Blind Goat and Xin Chào in Houston, discuss the topic, before Genevieve Villamora, co-owner of Bad Saint in Washington, D.C., and Vilailuck “Pepper” Teigen, author of The Pepper Thai Cookbook: Family Recipes from Everyone’s Favorite Thai Mom demonstrate a recipe from the new cookbook.

Wednesday 19 May, 6.30pm ET (Thursday 20 May, 6.30am HKT)

"Fast, Casual, Ethnic": Asian Food Beyond Misnomers and Myths
“Fast, Casual, Ethnic”: Asian Food Beyond Misnomers and Myths with (clockwise from top left) Kim Pham, Katsuya Fukushima, Sana Javeri Kadri and Dale Talde (Photo: Courtesy of Smithsonian Associates)

There’s a widespread myth that ‘ethnic’ food should be fast, casual and cheap, and that has broadly applied to Asian food, too. The panellists of this talk challenge this notion.

Speakers include Kim Pham, co-founder of Asian pantry staple company Omsom; chef Katsuya Fukushima, co-owner of Washington, D.C.’s Daikaya, Bantam King and Haikan; chef Dale Talde, a three-time contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef, with restaurants in Brooklyn, Jersey City and Miami; Sana Javeri Kadri, founder and CEO of Diaspora Co.; and Food and Wine restaurant editor Khushbu Shah, who focuses on the foodways of the South Asian diaspora.

Wednesday 9 June, 6.30pm ET (Thursday 10 June, 6.30am HKT)

Asian American Farmers Look Back to Go Forward
Asian American Farmers Look Back to Go Forward with (clockwise from top left) Mai Nguyen, Ariana de Leña, and Kenny Likitprakong (Photo: Courtesy of Smithsonian Associates)

Off the back of Lee Isaac Chung’s award-winning film Minari, which tells the tale of a Korean-American family who move from their urban home in California to a rural farm in Arkansas to grow Korean produce, this conversations looks at the place of Asian Americans in farming.

Founder of the Asian American Farmers Alliance, Mai Nguyen; Kamayan Farm co-founder Ariana de Leña; and Thai-American winemaker Kenny Likitprakong of family-owned Hobo Wine Co. in California discuss this timely topic.

Wednesday 23 June, 6.30pm ET (Thursday 24 June, 6.30am HKT)

The Culinasian conversation series is free, but registration is required and can be made at


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