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

Smithsonian Associates will present a series of online talks in May and June 2021 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 2021, are listed below. Scroll to the end of the story for registration details.

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

1. Saving Chinatown and Our Legacies

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, May 5, 6.30pm ET (Thursday, May 6, 6.30am MYT)

2. Southeast Asia Got Something to Say

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, May 19, 6.30pm ET (Thursday, May 20, 6.30am MYT)

3. “Fast, Casual, Ethnic”: Asian Food Beyond Misnomers and Myths

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, June 9, 6.30pm ET (Thursday, June 10, 6.30am MYT)

4. Asian American Farmers Look Back to Go Forward

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, June 23, 6.30pm ET (Thursday, June 24, 6.30am MYT)


Register for any of the above Culinasia Talks at

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