This installment introduces some of the hard working staff members of CAAM. Read their thoughts on how food impacts their identity and community and their earliest food memories.

The Asian American experience is an essential thread in the rich and ever-shifting fabric of American history and culture. We have laid railroad tracks, worked plantation fields, fought for civil rights and engineered technological miracles. Ours is an impossibly varied experience, with nuances born of geographic and temporal difference, neither easily parsed nor ever fully captured.

CAAM has partnered with AT&T to bring #StoriestoLight, a community storytelling campaign highlighting the diverse perspectives and experiences that comprise the APA community. From May and into August, continue to view and experience the rich collage of APA voices and images here with a new chapter every two weeks.


This installment introduces some of the hard working staff members of CAAM. Read their thoughts on how food impacts their identity and community and their earliest food memories.

Ashlyn Perri, Digital and Interactive Media Associate

FullSizeRenderFood has always been an important part of my upbringing. With a Japanese mother and an Italian-American father, the table would always be an eclectic mix of Japonica-Italian delights. On special occasions, a coursed menu at a Japalian dinner table would go as follows:

Chawanmushi with shiitake, chicken, and water chestnuts

Primo Piatto:
Udon with grandma’s pork neck bone marinara

Secondo  Piatto:
Dad’s Homemade pizza with sausage, tomato, and shishito peppers

Canoli and genmaicha

Masashi Niwano, Festival and Exhibitions Director

11144911_10153295042602959_1950972013922781122_n Food, like media has significantly impacted my personal identity and sense of community. It doesn’t matter who I’m with or what the situation is, food always comes up in conversation. In my spare time, I love throwing dinner parties. I spend hours thinking about what I want to make and equally what would my friends enjoy eating. My inspiration starts with my own experiences, so most dishes are infused with Japanese cuisine. Here’s some of my recent culinary offerings:
– Ume somen with vegetable tempura
– Deviled eggs with fried chicken skin karaage
– Mizu Gyoza with a ginger soy sauce
And when it gets cold, nothing better than a big ol’ pot of Japanese curry.
Phallina Kuch, Festival Intern

IMG_20150623_114759 Food surrounded my life growing up more ways than one. My family owned a Chinese restaurant in a small Georgia town. I ate Chinese all day, but my favorite dishes weren’t always on the menu. Of all the hundred items my dad knew how to make, he always loved to innovate and experiment with new dishes that were fusions of Cambodian and Chinese. One of his favorite and off-menu item was a lemon pepper steak.  It was sour, yet sweet, seasoned all around with black pepper. He charred it on the outside, but somehow left it nice and pink in the middle. It was perfect. I’d ask him how to make it, and he’d simply tell me, “It’s all in how you use the wok.”


Debbie Ng, Director of Development & Communications

Debbie w_brunchGrowing up in a Chinese immigrant household in Sacramento, one of my first and fondest food memories is of my mom brewing medicinal broths also known as “tong” in Cantonese. She’d spend the entire day simmering pork bones with Chinese roots and fungus, filling the kitchen with a warm, herbal steam. When ready, she’d ladle the broth into 6 rice bowls, one for each of my family members, and call us into the kitchen to drink before dinner. Over the years, mom would have tong prepared as soon as I walked in the door or she’d send me off with old Prego jars filled with the broth to tide me over until the next visit home.