Who Won the Title of Supreme Asian Chef at the Vegas Culinary Battles Finale?

(L to R) Perry Cheung, Chris Oh, David Park, and Jay Cho

After East Coast and West Coast semi-final competitions in Atlantic City and Los Angeles, the quest for Culinary Battles 2014: Supreme Asian Chef culminated in Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, where the four finalists competed in the final showdown on April 26, 2014.

The two chefs representing the East Coast were Culinary Institute of America - New York student Jay Cho of Coma Food Truck, which brought Korean/Mexican fusion food to Vancouver, and Dave Park, who has plans to open his first restaurant hanbun in Chicago that will showcase Korean street food with a modern twist.

The West Coast competitors were Seoul Sausage Company’s Chris Oh, a self-trained LA chef known for winning numerous cooking competitions including The Great Food Truck Race, Knife Fight and Cutthroat Kitchen, and Perry Cheung of Phorage, a classic Vietnamese restaurant in Los Angeles known for its locally-grown and sustainable ingredients.

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After each chef settled in their stations, the secret ingredients were revealed — pork belly, cabbages, and an assortment of citrus fruits — and they had one hour to prepare a special dish that would be judged on presentation, flavor, originality, use of the secret ingredient, and overall quality of the dish.

Without access to a pressure cooker or a grill at their cooking stations, most of the competitors expressed initial confusion on how they would best prepare the pork belly in under an hour. But not Seoul Sausage’s Chris Oh. Donning a black cap with KTOWN scrawled across the front, Oh was cool as a cucumber, joking about being slightly drunk already, encouraging ladies to ask him for his cell phone number after the competition was over, and taking a moment to do the infamous horse dance when “Gangnam Style” blasted over the loudspeakers.

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David Park, who endured some good-natured teasing about his expensive knives (and more impressive knife skills), immediately chopped up the pork belly and put it into a food processor. Jay Cho began by cutting the skin off the pork belly to tenderize the meat and allow the seasoning to absorb faster. Oh started by creating a flavorful sauce. But it was Perry Cheung who impressed the judges earliest by choosing to immediately deep fry the pork belly, so it would caramelize faster and therefore buy him more time to concentrate on the rest of his Culinary Battle strategy.

After the hour was over, host Diane Hendriks accompanied each chef, one by one, to the table of judges: Top Chef: New Orleans finalist Shirley Chung; Sean O’Connell, Executive Chef at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas; food writer and burger guru Damon Gambuto; Master Chef Joe Poon, a TV personality also known for his food sculptures; and Barbie Marshall, a contestant on Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen.

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David Park’s dish was a pomme purée topped with shishito peppers, deep-fried enoki mushrooms, and brûléed citrus, with the pork essence infused into the sauce. While the judges liked the presentation and thought it was smart to use the ground pork to extract flavor, they ultimately decided that the pork-infused sauce wasn’t enough to make up for the missing fatty pork their mouths were watering for.

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Halfway through Chris Oh’s allotted time, the judges still couldn’t figure out what he was doing with the pork. Turned out he had bigger engineering plans in mind. Not one to be constrained by limitations — he began his career cooking out of a friend’s SUV after all — Oh turned his butane burner into a makeshift grill, all while sipping on a beer like he was cooking for his friends in his own backyard. The result was spicy, sweet Korean BBQ-style pork belly paired with a citrus, mayo-based cole slaw — a simple but tasty dish that represented his signature style of combining Korean flavors with southern comfort food.

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Chef Jay Cho impressed the judges with his dish’s beautiful presentation and the variety of creative and delicious flavors he managed to put together in an hour. However, some thought that the pork belly was a bit tough and under-seasoned, and others suggested he may have been little too ambitious: ultimately, there were too many elements going on that didn’t quite come together smoothly as the judges would have liked.

perrycheungAnd last but not least, Perry Cheung presented the judges with his classic Chinese red braised pork belly and a cabbage slaw tossed with crispy bacon and a hint of grapefruit. While the judges called the presentation “rustic,” which seemed to be code for simple and slightly sloppy, Cheung’s careful concoction of flavors — utilizing everything from soy, lemongrass, ponzu, citrus, honey, and balsamic vinegar reduction — resulted in a dish that was completely gobbled up by the judges within minutes. “You had me at vinegar reduction,” said judge Shirley Chung.

As the show took a quick break to tally up the judges’ scores, if nothing else, it seemed clear that this time around, the West Coast had dominated East Coast.

In the end, the winner was Perry Cheung of Phorage!

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(L-R) Joe Poon, Shirley Chung, Perry Cheung, Barbie Marshall and Diane Hendriks.

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Congratulations to all the finalists! The Culinary Battles: Supreme Asian Chef competition will be televised on the ICN TV Network in the near future.

Haikus With Hotties: Freddie Wong

After last issue’s inaugural haiku exchange with our ultimate Smoking Hot Asian Guy (SHAG) Godfrey Gao, who could possibly follow but über-popular YouTube star, filmmaker and former competitive gamer Freddie Wong, otherwise known as FreddieW? Known for his slick, gun-toting, VFX-heavy, Michael Bay-inspired action-comedy videos that have garnered more than 1 billion views on his three YouTube channels (RocketJump alone has 6.6 million subscribers), Wong shows us you don’t need to be an international supermodel to seduce us with gravity-defying poetry.

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O Freddie, Freddie!
Wherefore doth thou beguile my
eyes with hot cat ties?

FREDDIE:
Before I answer
I must commend your usage
Of the word wherefore.

Do ladies prefer
sultry action stunts or smooth
Guitar Hero skillz?

FREDDIE:
The women, I’ve found,
are impressed by neither guns
nor plastic guitars.

After surviving
make-believe bullets, best fix
hair first? Or glasses?

FREDDIE:
When the myopic
Hand’s been dealt, one should always
Secure clear vision. 

 


But the fun doesn’t end there:

Behind the Scenes of Freddie Wong’s Haikus with Hotties Photo Shoot (Photos by Craig Stubing/Unwrittenfilms.com):

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Freddie Wong gets in the holiday spirit

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Freddie Wong’s smile melts hearts around the world

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Pardon me, were you taking a photo of this backdrop?

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No photos please, I’m concerned my hotness will shatter your camera

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Hey girl, brought this bow tie out just for you

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I’ll be right here… waiting for you.

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Bad guys don’t stop just because Freddie is at a photo shoot

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Freddie Wong hates ties, even beautiful ones with cats on them.

 

 

 

 

 

Our previous Haikus With Hotties with Godfrey Gao:

 

Who should be next in our “Haikus With Hotties” series? Tell us what you think!

This story was originally published in our Winter 2013-14 issue. Get your copy here

Spotlight on Unforgettable’s Awardees | Jose Antonio Vargas, Inspiration Award

Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has written for the likes of The New Yorker, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and Rolling Stone to document stories of Americans around the country. Recently, he decided to tell his own story.

The Philippines-born Vargas was brought over to America as a young child and didn’t even know he didn’t have the right papers until he went to take his driver’s permit test as a teenager and was told his ID was fake. As a young adult, he became obsessed with proving himself as a true American, doing excellent work, paying his taxes, and eventually winning a Pulitzer — even if it meant keeping a very big secret. Eventually, he was tired of hiding and lying about his identity. He shook America with his 2011 The New York Times Magazine essay, in which Vargas came out as an undocumented immigrant.

Since then, Vargas continues to fight for the plight of undocumented immigrants, which many dismiss as “illegals.” He’s founded the organization Define American, which shares the many different stories much like his own. Earlier this year, he not only testified before the U.S. Senate on immigration reform but he also turned his personal story into a documentary film — fittingly called Documented — which premiered as the centerpiece for the AFIDOCS film festival in Washington D.C.

How did your documentary Documented come about?

Jose Antonio Vargas: Well, this was not the film I was originally going to make. Originally I was going to do a DREAM Act film. I was following five different people with different backgrounds, and I was going to do it Waiting for Superman style. Where you’re doing a vérité-style documentary, you just film, film, film, because you don’t know what you’re going to get.

And then halfway through the filming, one of my filmmaker friends asked me, “How could you do a film on immigration and not include your mom?” I barely talk to my mom [who he hasn't seen in over 20 years because she lives in the Philippines, and he cannot leave the US], let alone did I want to see her on film…. So in some ways the [autobiographical] film was not something I wanted to make, but it was a film that I needed to make.

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On the Define American page, the Documented logo is made up images of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Why did you want to link your story with images of social media?

Jose Antonio Vargas: It’s the idea that undocumented people are documenting their lives. For many people, social media is a narcissistic cesspool of vanity. [laughs] It’s just what I ate yesterday and where I’m going tonight. But for undocumented people that aren’t even recognized by the government, it’s our way to be recognized.

 

For more information on 2013′s Unforgettable annual gala, click here.

For free tickets to our Unforgettable after party, click here. Hope to see you there!

 

Spotlight on Unforgettable’s Awardees | David Choi, Arts & Entertainment Award

David Choi is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter/music producer who first gained fame on YouTube for his original song “YouTube A Love Song” in 2006. Since then, he’s paved the way for independent artists who are building a fanbase and making a living themselves by mobilizing social media resources. Choi wrote and self-produced all three of his albums Only You, By My Side, and Forever and Ever, which debuted at #97 on the iTunes top album charts, his songs have used in both American and Korean television shows, and his YouTube channel boasts close to a million subscribers and over 117,000,000 total video views.

You talk a lot about a moment in high school, where you went from hating practicing your musical instruments to being obsessed with composing music. What happened?

David Choi: Well, I didn’t know you could create music. Learning an instrument is not being creative. It’s just practicing someone else’s music. You can’t be creative when somebody is telling you exactly what to do.

Once I realized I could be creative with music, something just grabbed me and made me want to do this forever. It was weird. Maybe it was me wanting to succeed? I don’t even think it was that. I just really loved it. It’s like when you fall in love with somebody, and you want to spend time with them every single day. That’s how I felt about music.

Do you find that your good songs come to you very quickly, or do you have to work hard to rewrite, analyze the lyrics or the structure, and rewrite again?

David Choi: Now that I’ve been doing it for so long, it feels more innate. I will write a song, and what matters to me is not necessarily whether it sounds good, cool, or unique, but whether it’s honest. That’s the first part. Then the second part is sitting on it after I record it, and later listening back and being more judgmental. Here, I’m putting on my producer’s hat and looking at song structure etc.

There are definitely songs that I rewrite constantly but if I keep having to do that, often I’ll just let it go. I feel like it loses something after too much revision. But that’s just the art side of me talking, not the practical side. It’s about balancing the two.

 

Check out David Choi on the cover of KoreAm Journal’s December 2013 issue. Buy a copy to read the full cover story.

For more information on 2013′s Unforgettable annual gala, click here.

For free tickets to our Unforgettable after party, click here. Hope to see you there!

Spotlight on Unforgettable’s Awardees | Janet Yang, Audrey Woman of Influence Award

Janet Yang is a film producer and cultural ambassador who works to bridge the gap between the Hollywood and Chinese film industries. President of Janet Yang Productions and The Manifest Film Company, Yang’s numerous credits include The People vs. Larry Flynt, The Joy Luck Club, High Crimes, The Weight of Water, Disney’s High School Musical in China, and most recently, Shanghai Calling.

What quality do you think has helped you become successful over the years?

Janet Yang: I don’t get too stuck on things. I don’t think, “This is how it has to be.” And especially working in China, it’s a handicap if you come in thinking, “This is the only way.” Studios go in, saying “This is how it’s done,” and it comes across as arrogance because it’s not how they do it in China.

Working in Hollywood and the West, the individual is often glorified, and that sometimes leads to over-sized egos. If I had a huge ego, it’d be really hard, because you’d be constantly butting heads with everyone. Not that I’m a wallflower or doormat, but because I’m pretty agile and I’m willing to let people have their space, I can concentrate on doing whatever’s necessary. If I need to be the alpha dog, I’ll be the alpha dog, but I’m not too attached to playing a certain role, and I think that’s helpful in terms of getting along with people.

Looking back, what has it been like being one of the few Asian American female power players in Hollywood?

Janet Yang: That’s always been a tricky question, because in this lifetime, I’ve only been Asian and a woman, so I can’t absolutely say how it’d be different otherwise. But I sometimes feel like we don’t have a club. It’s harder to have an instant identification with this group or that, when you’re in between cultures. You don’t know which club you should belong to, and you don’t particularly want to belong any existing club, so we have to make up our own club.

In the early days, especially in Hollywood, I was often in institutions where I was the only woman, and I definitely felt somewhat conspicuous, but it never felt like it was a true handicap. It could have been an asset. These days, people tend to remember me, and I’m sure it’s because there aren’t that many Asian women. So, how can I complain? I was just doing my thing, and doors opened up.

Do you have any advice for anyone who looks up to you and your career path?

Janet Yang: I don’t know. [laughs] That’s the problem when people ask, “How did you plan your career?” I didn’t plan it. I had no idea what I was doing. I was really more driven by my passions, I had this thing I wanted to do, and I was following my nose. So don’t try to imitate what I did. You can’t chart it on a graph, because it doesn’t make any sense. It was less of a plan and more of an evolution.

Especially in this day and age, the opportunities are coming from God knows where. It’s a crazy environment, so I feel like one has to be really clear about who you are, and hopefully what you’re good at and what you love to do overlaps, and then focus on those things. There are so many choices nowadays.

 

For our full Janet Yang profile in this issue of Audrey Magazine, click here.

For more information on 2013′s Unforgettable annual gala, click here.

For free tickets to our Unforgettable after party, click here. Hope to see you there!

Most Entertaining Twitter Reactions to Wang Leehom’s Girlfriend Announcement

Earlier today, Mandopop singer and dreamboat Wang Leehom shattered the hearts of boys and girls everywhere when he made an announcement on his official Facebook site:

“The past few years your comments here have often been about ‘hope you find your Forever Love.’ I’m lucky to have met a girl to hold hands with and share my future. She’s not in the entertainment business so you don’t know her, but I also don’t want to create the opportunity for rumors so… her name is Lee Jinglei, she’s 27 years old and a graduate student at Columbia. Wangbaba & Mama love her and I hope you will too.”

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Photo and headline courtesy of Shanghaiist.com.


The Taiwanese American singer/songwriter/actor has been notoriously mum about his private life, which has resulted in gay rumors swirling for the better part of his career. Most recently he was linked to his friend, classical pianist Li Yundi — a rumor Wang promptly swashed on Weibo.

As we properly congratulate the happy couple, we also take to Twitter to assess the myriad of fan reactions, which range from thrilled ecstasy to total devastation.

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For those of you who are happy for him:

For those who need some time to mourn:

 

Macel Wilson: The First Asian American to Win Miss U.S.A. in 1962

In 1962, Macel Patricia Leilani Wilson from Honolulu, Hawaii was the first Asian American woman to win the title of Miss U.S.A. Wilson was not only the first Asian American, but the first non-Caucasian woman to wear the crown. She would go on to become a finalist in the 1962 Miss Universe competition.

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Macel’s news story is sandwiched in between “Freak Accident Kills Ex-Governor, Wife” and a photograph of Lodi Boat and Ski Club Miss Skipperette competition.

The July 13, 1963 issue of Lodi News-Sentinel, based in California, reports:

Macel Leilani Wilson of Hawaii, daughter of a plumber, won the Miss U.S.A. title Thursday night in a tense climax to the Miss America pageant. Miss Wilson, 19, captured the fancy of the eight judges with her flashing dark brown eyes and a lithe figure that would grace any come-to-Hawaii poster…

Miss Wilson, a receptionist, didn’t list a single previous beauty title on her contest application, measures 35-24-35 and stands at five feet, seven inches….

The deeply tanned Miss Hawaii, who succeeds Sharon Brown of Minden, La., as Miss U.S.A. told pageant officials that her ambition is to “go to college and get married.” She arrived in Miami for the contest wearing a sarong as her native costume, and did a brief hula-hula for photographers.

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Eventually, Wilson would get married to a Danish civil engineer and move to Copenhagen, Denmark to study filmmaking. She worked as a film editor for the Danish Broadcasting Corporation from the 1970s to 2000, with a break in the middle where she went to Tunisia to study Fine Arts. She reportedly had some art exhibitions in Denmark displaying her work after leaving the Danish Broadcasting Corporation.

In light of Nina Davuluri becoming the first Indian American to win the Miss America title last night, it’s fascinating to see what a difference of forty years makes. Davuluri, also 5’7″, is 24, has already graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Brain Behaviour and Cognitive Science, and has plans to become a doctor.

 

 

The Asian Americans Competing for Miss America, Including Two “Crystal Lees”

While Nina Davuluri claiming the Miss America 2014 title on Sunday night marked the first time an Indian American woman has won the coveted crown, merely focusing on Davuluri’s victory would be minimizing what a historic night it was for Asian American women overall.

When it came down to the final five, there were THREE Asian Americans in the running: Davuluri, Chinese American Miss California Crystal Lee and Chinese American hapa Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh.

Miss California’s Crystal Lee is a recent graduate of Stanford University (with not one, but two degrees: a bachelor’s in biology and a master’s in communication, which she earned in four years) who dreams of owning her own technology company in the future. She was runner-up to Nina Davuluri, and while the two of them squeezed each other’s hands, there was an instant realization that no matter who won, they’d both be making history. Crystal Lee is from San Francisco, her talent was ballet on pointe, and she earned some sympathy from viewers when her interview question involved her thoughts on Syria — something that even politicians are having a hard time explaining.

As fourth runner-up, Rebecca Yeh calls herself “a little bit of everything” and “a product of that great American melting pot.” Her dad is Chinese and her mom is German, Irish and Bohemian. Her talent was the violin, and her goal is to become a clinical pharmacist as well as a violin instructor. Her platform was “My Voice for Philip;” Philip is her older brother who was diagnosed with autism.

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In addition to those two, there was another 22-year-old Crystal Lee in the running: Miss Hawaii. This Crystal Lee was born to a father from Hong Kong and a mother from Ohio, but raised in Waipahu, Hawaii. She graduated from the University of Hawaii, where she studied French, and her goal is to become an advertising/promotions executive in the future. Her talent was contemporary dance, and her pageant platform involves educating others on the importance of donating blood — an issue that became important to her when her grandfather became dependent on blood donations after being diagnosed with cancer of the blood.

And this year’s Miss District of Columbia (Washington DC) is Bindhu Pamarthi, a young woman born to Indian immigrants who has been competing in pageants since she was 12. Now 23, Pamarthi is passionate about ending animal testing in the cosmetic industry and more. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Pamarthi aspires to go to law school.

 

 

Which Asian American Women Influence You? | Audrey’s 8 Picks for Our Inaugural Women of Influence Series

BUY THE FALL 2013 ISSUE FEATURING OUR WOMEN OF INFLUENCE HERE.

Article: WOMEN OF INFLUENCE

ISSUE: FALL 2013

Influence comes in many forms, from high-profile advocates who are shaping ideas on an international stage to local heroes who are breaking barriers and defying expectations in their own communities. In our inaugural series celebrating influential Asian American women, Audrey Magazine highlights eight newsmakers, activists, leaders and trailblazers who encourage us to pursue our dreams, explore the unknown, and stand up for those without a voice.

Check out our Influential Women video introducing all 8 of our picks below, and tweet us at @audreymagazine or @adatseng to suggest other impressive Asian American women for us to feature in our continuing series!

 

OUR WOMEN OF INFLUENCE:

Keli Lee, Executive VP of Casting at ABC Entertainment

 

Somaly Mam, Co-founder and President of the Somaly Mam Foundation

 

 

Madhulika Sikka, Executive Editor for NPR News

 

Grace Lee Boggs, Lifelong Activist for Detroit and the African American Movement

 

Valarie Kaur, Founder of Groundswell at Auburn Seminary

 

Alex Wagner, Host of MSNBC’s NOW with Alex Wagner

 

Grace Ueng, Founder and CEO of Savvy Marketing Group

 

Melissa Lee, Host of CNBC’s Fast Money

 

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BUY THE FALL 2013 ISSUE FEATURING OUR WOMEN OF INFLUENCE HERE.

 

BOLLYWOOD GOSSIP: Deepika Padukone compares her ex-boyfriend Ranbir Kapoor to rumored new beau Ranveer Singh

The Deepika Padukone cover story for the September issue of Filmfare Magazine starts: “It’s the best time to be Deepika Padukone, right now.”

The Bollywood actress (daughter of famed cricket player Prakash Padukone) has recently seen her star power shine brighter and brighter with each film release. Last year’s Cocktail was a hit, and this year brought the popular sequel Race 2; the box office success Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, showing she still has some sizzling on-screen chemistry with her ex-boyfriend Ranbir Kapoor; and Chennai Express, which reunites her with Shah Rukh Khan.

Next up for Deepika is the much-anticipated Ram Neela, opposite Ranveer Singh, her new “are they or aren’t they dating” co-star who’s hot off the critical acclaim of Lootera, and she’s in pre-production for Happy New Year, which reunites her with not only Shah Rukh Khan but also the director Farah Khan of her debut film, 2007′s Om Shanti Om.

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Highlights from her Filmfare interview:

On her relationship with Ranbir Kapoor:

It’s always nice to have that one screen jodi that the audience looks forward to. I’m glad that Ranbir and I have formed that. I guess it’s also the way our characters were written and what the film did for us. And what also helped was the way Ayan [Mukerji], whoh’s a dear friend, directed the film. He brought out the best in us. I’m glad I have that equation with Ranbir. He’s someone I trust my life with.

On rumors about her dating Ranveer Singh:

People are more than welcome to speculate about Ranveer and me. But there’s to much goodness around me to worry about these speculations. … [As a co-star, he's] too giving, very positive and very entertaining. He’s also extremely sensitive. He puts on this tough exterior, shows his fun side, quirky side all the time. He’s all that. But beyond it, he’s also sensitive to the energies of people. To what people say. That’s such a wonderful quality for a man to have, when everyone else is trying to be manly, tough, and all of that. It’s so nice to meet someone who’s so real and so giving and so uninhibited. What you see is what you get with him.

If you were in a lift with Ranbir and Ranveer Singh together, what would you do?

A dance off between the two of them!

Who do you think will win?

Tough. They are both superb dancers.

 

Judge for yourselves!