While this may be the 8th year, it’s also in one way the first. It’s the first year of a plant based edition feast. This is noteworthy because if you go to chef gala events you see a lot of the same kinds of dishes and they aren’t plant based. Tuna tartare is popular, a seared scallop, perhaps something with pork belly or foie gras will make an appearance. But as dining evolves so too do these events. In San Francisco some of the finest restaurants are focusing more on vegetables than ever before. I spoke with LUCKYRICE founder, Danielle Chang to learn more about the event and the second season of her PBS show, Lucky Chow.
How many galas and "feasts" have you produced?
In the eight lucky years that I’ve been at the helm of LUCKYRICE, we’ve produced over 100 curated events that spotlight Asian culture through the lens of food and drink.
Why did you decide to do a plant based theme and why in San Francisco?
I think when people think “Asian food” they’re still thinking mystery brown sauce, rice and packaged ramen noodles. I wanted to really spotlight Asian cuisine in an entirely unique way with this plant-based menu so people could really experience and taste the evolution of Asian cuisine in America and embrace its green potential, it’s come a long way! No General Tso’s chicken here.
What dishes and ingredients are you particularly excited to see showcased at the event?
With a fabulous line-up like this one, I think it’s hard to pick just one but I’ve definitely got my eye on the Pinakbet Onigiri with Stuffed Garlic Fried Rice Ball with Kabocha Squash, Green beans, Eggplant, Okra, Vegan Bagoong, Nori seaweed from Buffalo Theory in collaboration with Alchemy
How did this season of Lucky Chow and your visits to farms in particular influence you and your future plans?
Since so much of the Asian-American immigrant experience is rooted in the soil of Bay Area farms, it makes sense to pay homage to that history while celebrating the new culinary expressions being created by the younger generation. And, while filming season 2 of my PBS show Lucky Chow, I was so inspired by the featured local farmers, like Kristyn Leach of Namu and Ross Koda of Koda Farms. They, like so many other Bay Area residents, are committed to seasonality, locality, and innovation in sustainability.
Does Asian food fit into the "vegetable centric" trend in dining?
From mizuna to bok choy, people will walk into an Asian grocery store and run the other way when they’re confronted with the different varieties of Asian greens and vegetables because they’re intimidated, begging the questions, “what do I do with this?” or “how do I cook that?” There’s still a lot of unharnessed potential when it comes to Asian cooking fitting into a “veggie centric” motif. I think we can only expect to see more and more chefs and restaurateurs seeking out Asian vegetables as they’re expanding their flavor palates and looking for something “new.”
Here's the full line up of tantalizing dishes from some really outstanding restaurants: