Bay Area Life

Life through the viewfinder

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National Pancake Day 2014

Miss California on National Pancake Day (1)

Miss California Crystal Lee with a short stack and bacon.

Miss California 2013 Crystal Lee (aka Miss America 2014 First Runner-Up) made two appearances at two Bay Area IHOP locations, one in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf and the other in South San Francisco near SFO. Crystal spent her time at these locations greeting customers at the door, meeting with customers at their tables, and thanked those that made contributions. Crystal even ate a pancake at the San Francisco location.

Photo of Miss California digging in from her Facebook Fan Page.

Photo of Miss California with a pancake mountain from her Facebook Fan Page.

About National Pancake Day

Since beginning its National Pancake Day celebration in 2006, IHOP restaurants have raised $13 million to support charities in the communities in which they operate. On March 4, 2014, guests from around the country will once again celebrate National Pancake Day at IHOP restaurants and enjoy a free short stack of Buttermilk pancakes. In return for the free pancakes, guests will be asked to consider leaving a donation for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals© or other designated local charities.

Miss California Crystal Lee with IHOP staff members.

Miss California Crystal Lee with IHOP staff members.

About Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada. Donations – including all those made on IHOP National Pancake Day – stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care. Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $5 billion, most of it $1 at a time through the charity’s Miracle Balloon icon. Its fundraising partners and programs support the nonprofit’s mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Find out why children’s hospitals need community support, and learn about your member hospital, at CMNHospitals.org.

 

Follow Michael Jeong on Twitter at @MJPhotographySF or Facebook at www.facebook.com/mjphotographysf 

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58th Annual North Beach Festival

North Beach Festival 2012

The 58th Annual North Beach Festival took to the streets of historic North Beach, also known as “Little Italy”, this past weekend with Saturday being the extreme scorcher of the two day festival. The festival occupied the busiest streets of the district with Columbus Street, this year, completely closed off to through traffic from Broadway to Green Streets with the overflow of festival-goers inhabiting Washington Square to relax and enjoy the company of friends and the weather.

The festival enjoyed its greatest weather on Saturday with many people taking to the streets in shorts, skirts, dresses, and of course sunglasses. People enjoyed the festival while grabbing drinks at the many beer gardens scattered throughout the festival. The largest beer and wine garden was at the Green Street Stage where guests inhabited the normally parking lot by day location. Here guests mingled with each other while enjoying a beverage or two with live performances by upbeat bands. The Filbert Street Stage was a smaller scaled stage with a different calmer atmosphere with bands that played soothing jazz.

Similar to other street festivals in San Francisco, the streets were filled with arts and crafts booths, sponsor booths, food and drink booths, and live music. However, what sets this festival apart from the others in San Francisco is the street chalk artwork that takes place at Grant Ave. and Vallejo Street. This year five artists constructed chalk art with many onlookers watching the artwork being created on Saturday to the final finishing touches by the festival’s end on Sunday. Organizers of the festival also allowed the public to take part in chalk art on the sidewalk for a small nominal fee.

Also observed during the festival is the annual “Blessing of the Animals” held by the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi. Hundreds of people and their animals occupied the building over the course of two days with Fr. Gregory Coiro presiding over the animal blessings.

Having been to this festival several times, a trip to the North Beach would not be complete without having tried pizza from the area. I had some this year and it was good. I won’t tell you where, so you’ll have to discover it on your own. If you want some delicious pizza, come out to this district and try the different styles that this area has to offer. Pizza comes in all sorts, thin crust, cracker crust, thick crust, and also Sicilian styled pizza. I haven’t come across a deep dish pizza in the North Beach, but then again it’s not a traditional type of pizza originating from Italy. Deep dish is synonymous with Chicago and though there are some deep dish pizza joints in San Francisco, I think this district has yet to see one. There are rumors though that one will be coming soon.

Until next time, Ciao.

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North Beach Festival 2012 (1)

Festival booths line Columbus Street.

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The crowded Grant Avenue facing south.

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Looking north on Grant Avenue at the North Beach Festival.

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A crowded Washington Square.

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Quest brings his slacklining to the park and allows others to try the sport.

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The jam packed Green Street Stage on Saturday afternoon.

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Columbus Street facing the Transamerica Pyramid.

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One of many Italian flag painted poles in the North Beach.

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Customers compare their choice colored t-shirts.

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Chalk artists design artwork on the streets of North Beach.

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Amos Goldbaum captures the old Embarcadero Freeway on a t-shirt. Does anybody remember this freeway pre-1989 earthquake?

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Can you believe this is her real hair?

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North Beach Festival is enjoyed by all. He particularly enjoys the No Stopping signs on Columbus Avenue.

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Two lovely ladies enjoy their puppets.

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A trip to North Beach is not complete without taking home a pizza.

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Two people enjoy a game of chess outside of a cafe at the North Beach Festival.

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Father Gregory Coiro blesses animals inside the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi.

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SF Giants are represented at the North Beach Festival

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Two ladies enjoy gummy worms while selling hats at the North Beach Festival.

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Italian inspired clothing and tattoos.

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Jammin' on the electric guitar.

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Gettin' down with the music.

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Playin' jazz with Carol Doda in the background before she sings.

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The North Beach Festival is a family affair.

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The completed chalk artworks on Vallejo Street.

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The Fillmore Summerfest Kick-Off

Fillmore Summerfest

The Village Project and the Bayview YMCA presented The Fillmore Summerfest Kick-Off entitled “Grillin in the ‘Mo” on Saturday. Village Project founder, Adrian Williams, headed up this gathering at the Hamilton Rec Center Park. This event kick starts the summer of free festivals and events in the Fillmore Jazz District.

The mission statement of the Village Project is “To bring together resources and programs to enhance the economic, educational, social and cultural well being of children. We promote community unity, cultural awareness, connectedness, and engagement amongst diverse populations. Our target demographic resides in undeserved communities such as public and subsidized housing.”

Event activities included three jumper castles, live music entertainment, live DJ, game area for the kids, eating, dancing, and normal fun in the sun. Williams with the help of many sponsors and community partners was able to put together this event and was able to provide a cooked meal to the surrounding community all for free, but donations were encouraged to help with the children’s program. Also free treats for all in the Kids Area with snow cones, cotton candy, and buttered popcorn.

The menu for the grillin’ BBQ event consisted of green tossed salad, potato salad, fruit and veggies, scalloped potatoes, spaghetti, beef or BBQ chicken, and various drinks. For the children, grilled hot dogs and hamburgers were the main staple. Festivities began at Noon and lasted until 5pm. The Village Project would like to thank Episcopal Charities, IF/X Productions, and Kaiser Permanente for supporting the Village Project’s summer camp.

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Fillmore Summerfest (1)

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The Village Project founder dances to music and eats food with guests

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Asian Heritage Street Celebration Volunteer Reception

AHSC Volunteer Reception

After the fun and clean up of the Asian Heritage Street Celebration has come and gone, the Asian Week Foundation appreciated their wonderful volunteers with an enjoyable reception to cap off their yearly event. The Cova Hotel proudly sponsored the venue for the evening as volunteers were able to capture views of the city center from the rooftop of the hotel.

Volunteers were appreciated with delicious food, beer, and wine. Certificates of Congressional Recognition were presented to those that provided specific roles at the festival/community. An annual volunteer raffle ended the program with several prizes.

Volunteers come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. If you are interested in helping out next year, please check out asianfairsf.com

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AHSC Volunteer Reception (1)

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AHSC Volunteer Reception (17)

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Northern California Soy & Tofu Festival 2012

Northern California Soy & Tofu Festival 2012

The Northern California Soy & Tofu Festival is in its second year and took place in San Francisco at the Peace Plaza in Japantown. The festival a is fundraiser for the Nichi Bei Foundation, which publishes the Nichi Bei Weekly Japanese American newspaper. Several hundred gathered for this festival that focused on dishes made from tofu and/or soy products.

Emcees for the event were George Kiriyama (NBC Bay Area) and Jane Katsuyama (KTVU Channel 2). As emcees, both George and Jane introduced the live music and performances underneath the pagoda at Peace Plaza. They also interviewed the contestants and judges for the main event. Also present were Tofu Ninja and Tofu Panda who brought many smiles to both young and old.

The main event for the Tofu Festival was the final round in the Tofu Dessert Competition. The qualifying competition was held previous to this event and three final competitors fought to be the Tofu Dessert Champion. The three tofu dishes that were in the running was a tofu tiramisu dessert, a tofu mochi dessert, and macaroons made from tofu.

The judges for the competition were Eric Mar (SF District Supervisor), Minh Tsai (Hodo Soy Beanery), Asaki Osato (2012 Cherry Blossom Queen), Grace Keh (sffood.net), and Riko Majillo (Ozumo SF). The desserts were served by Miki Fukai, Chihiro Hirai, and Manami Kidera (Princesses of the 2012 Cherry Blossom Queen’s Program). After the judges tasted all three tofu desserts, they had come to a final decision with third place going to Justin Howard (Tofuramisu), second place going to Deanna Gin (Calamansi Macaroons), and first place tofu champion went to Kenji Shimodaira (Zunda Mochi Topped with Kinako).

Following the Tofu Dessert Competition, entertainment on the stage resumed and vendors continued to allow festival goers a chance to taste various foods made with tofu or soy products. For those that fear eating tofu in it’s white curd state or fermented soybeans (natto) there were alternative food trucks on Post Street that served up delicious tasting Asian foods. The two food trucks that I found to be ones that I will be following are Chairman Bao and KoJa Kitchen. Both serve up two unique culinary Asian foods and probably will be the forerunners in those dishes until another competitor joins the market.

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Northern California Soy & Tofu Festival 2012 (1)

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Guest judges Riko Majillo, Minh Tsai, Eric Mar, Asaki Osato, and Grace Keh (from left to right)

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Justin Howard's Tofuramisu

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Kenji Shimodaira's Zunda Mochi Topped with Kinako.

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Deanna Gin's Calamansi Macaroons

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Kenji Shimodaira wins the Tofu Dessert Competition with his Zunda Mochi Topped with Kinako.

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A kid in the crowd spots the Tofu Ninja, but can you spot the other ninja in the crowd?

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Northern California Soy & Tofu Festival 2012 (20)

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8th Asian Heritage Street Celebration

8th Asian Heritage Street Celebration

The Asian Heritage Street Celebration occurs every Third Saturday in May. This year it was held again in the Little Saigon District and Civic Center of San Francisco. The Street Fair brings awareness to visitors about Asian culture, food, entertainment, and even brings health awareness and prevention to those that don’t know about such health programs.

The festival started off with a Thai Blessing ceremony (Wat Buddapradeem Temple). Next up was the Faces of Asia procession that had participants from numerous Asian ethnicities. Throughout the street fair there were live entertainers, musicians, marital artists, and cooking demonstrations live on four stages.

All day events at the fair were the food booths/truck vendors serving delicious food, wine tastings, arts and crafts booths, an import/exotic car exhibition, a kids zone, a healthy living pavilion, and the Asian Art Museum open to the public sponsored by Target.

New to the street fair this year was the cooking demonstrations that took place at the cooking demo stage on Larkin and Eddy Streets. (There was no Muay Thai Exhibition and Tournament this year.) Special guest chef, Martin Yan, began his program at 2:30pm. He created a delicious noodle dish and entertained the crowd with his humor and his quick knife cutting skills. He also brought along with him his sidekick noodle chef who stretched out fresh dough while dancing. He used the noodle dough as if it were a lasso, spinning and twisting and turning it in the air.

I had the privilege in eating Martin Yan’s noodle dish and I can say that it was delicious, it is not just a show that he puts on, but he can sure cook. The noodles were fresh and delicious (silky smooth), chicken and shrimp were cooked to perfection, and all the vegetables provided great texture and aromas to complement the dish. Chef Martin Yan even fed me shrimp, which I think is pretty unique. I don’t think he’s ever fed anyone else other than his family. I guess I’m that special. He did this in front of a crowd which photographed me, I felt a little funny, but this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I just went with it.

Other chefs demonstrations were presented by Kayne Raymond,Andrea Nguyen, Mari Takahashi, Charles Phan, and Steve Cortez.

At the end of the day, the whole event was a great success. I think this was the most foot traffic at the festival that I’ve ever experienced in its 8th year. Hopefully, next year will bring more people and much more activities and culture. Until next year AHSC.

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8th Asian Heritage Street Celebration (1)

Faces of Asia procession down Larkin Street

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Korean Culture

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Indonesian Culture

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Johnny Hi-Fi

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Martial Arts Demo

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Thai Culture

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A guest is tested at the Hep B Testing Tent

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Larkin Street looking north

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A volunteer pours wine at the Wine Tasting Tent

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Joel Del Rosario

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Guest Chefs at the 8th Asian Heritage Street Celebration

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Martin Yan tells the audience how to quickly remove the seeds from a red bell pepper

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Martin Yan fillets a red bell pepper, and then continues to fillet the skin twice more.

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Martin Yan shows the audience how to quickly julienne vegetables

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Master noodle chef from China, literally whips his noodle around.

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Martin Yan shows off his Asian noodle dish

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Martin Yan feeds me some delicious shrimp

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Car exhibition

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Volunteers at the Hep B Testing Tent

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Collectors wine glass at the 8th Asian Heritage Street Celebration

Other featured performers include: Arianna Tolentino, Chloe Yu, Johnny Hi-Fi, One Hunned, The Seshen, DJ Mike Nice, Native Elements, Beach Blanket Babylon, Kenneth Ronquillo, Sheryl Ann Padre, Brian Lee, Celeste Ignacio, DJ ToneDef, Rocky Rivera, US Wing Chun, Parangal Dance Company, Francis Wong Unit (Asian Improv aRts), Joel Del Rosario, GenRyu Arts, Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center, Burmese Youth Association, CARA’s Cambodian American Dance Troupe, Richmond Temple Music Group,Traditional Performing Ensemble from Thailand, Mari Watanabe “San Francisco Sailor Moon”, Gadung Kasturi Balinese Dance and Music, GoldenVardo Tribal Bellydance, Ms. Margot Lederer Prado’s Dance Group (Indonesian Consulate), and Diwa Kulintang Circle.

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Bazaar Bizarre at Maker Faire 2010

Bazaar Bizarre at Maker Faire 2010 (click here for images)

San Mateo County Fairgrounds was host to the famous Maker Faire where maker’s of arts & crafts, gadgets and gizmos, and other various contraptions were shown to the public. Entrance to the fair was at most $25 for at the door costs, but presale tickets were sold at a discount. The fair took over the whole fairgrounds and much was to be seen. Entertainment lined the fairgrounds inside and out with tons of stuff to see and do left and right. Food was all over the places and looked and smelled great.

One of the most entertaining things to see at this show was being able to see music come from electrical arcs from Tesla coils. With a live band playing as back up, a man in a wire meshed suit stood between two huge Tesla coils and was able to allow electricity to go to his suit and closing the circuit.

This year Bazaar Bizarre SF obtained the Cypress Room where vendors from all over came to show off their work. Lots of people came to shop around and many just looked around at some of the cool and interesting creations that people can come up with. Many vendors sold jewelry and clothing, but some of the most interesting ones came from a few that made stuffed animals from different types of materials. Some animals were made from cotton (yarn), some from felt, and some from denim or other various materials.

Having walked around the bazaar there were many things that I wish I could purchase, but I know if I did that I wouldn’t have any more money left in my bank. However, just being able to see these items brought a sense of joy and happiness to me.

Although, I did not spend much time searching the whole fairgrounds, I had a great time meeting the makers of Bazaar Bizarre. They are ordinary people trying to make a living by selling some of their creations. A lot of them do it as a hobby, but most of them do it for a living. Come out to an event and help support local artists, artists including myself. For more information on Bazaar Bizarre please go to their website at http://www.bazaarbizarre.org/sanfrancisco

Pictures of Bazaar Bizarre at Maker Faire can be seen by clicking on the picture link above. If this post was informative and helpful, please feel free to leave me a comment or donation below. Thank you.

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Asian Heritage Street Celebration 2010

Asian Heritage Street Celebration 2010 (click here for images)

The 6th Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration filled Larkin St. from Civic Center all the way up to Little Saigon. The street festival started with some cold gloomy weather, but heated up by mid-afternoon. Early Asian festivities started with the Faces of Asia parade. The parade started at the Asian Art Museum and went through the festival all the way to the top of the festival at Eddy Street and back down to the Cultural and Jazz Stage.

Featured entertainers of the festival were the West Coast Lion Dance Troupe, Frances Ancheta Becker, Kapakahi, Native Elements, Trackademics, Kat o1o (Crown City Rockers), Far East Movement, The CounterParts, Curt Yagi, Kazha, akai Sky, Chung Ngai Dance Troupe, Argonne Elementary School, Purple Orchids, ASEAN Corner, Chardi Jawani Stanford Bhangra, Gen Taiko, AHSC Best Dance Crew Contest (hosted by WILD 94.9), SF Pinoy Jazz Revnue, Balut Eating Contest, YoYoJoe, Planet Infinity’s More Than Medals Taekwondo Team, Unity Tuy Ngoc Nguyen, and Animemyu.

One thing that this street celebration does not lack in and that is entertainment. It is very difficult to catch everything in one day, but if you can pull it off to catch half of it you did a pretty good job. Just the entertainment on the stages alone was a lot, but don’t forget the street celebration itself. The street festival not to mention has vendors that sell arts & crafts, gifts, food, information, a kiddie carnival, they also have sponsors that give out free things and booths that can even teach you how to play mahjong. If that’s not enough, there’s import cars to check out and if that’s not entertaining enough, there’s Muay Thai Kick-boxing going on all day.

For a festival that starts at 10am and lasts till 6pm, it is one that is jam packed with stuff to do and see. It is a lot of fun and every year it seems to get better and better. What will the festival have in store for San Francisco next year? Who knows, come out to find out.

Pictures of the Asian Heritage Street Celebration can be seen by clicking on the picture link above. If this post was informative and helpful, please feel free to leave me a comment or donation below. Thank you.

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Asian Pacific American Heritage Awards 2010

Asian Pacific American Heritage Awards 2010 (click here for images)

The Asian Pacific American Heritage Awards kicked off the Asian Heritage Month here in San Francisco at the Herbst Theatre in Civic Center. The Awards ceremony first started with classical music by cellist Charles Wang. The evening progressed with the granting of awards to the following from local dignitaries:

For Emerging Leadership: Thomas Li

For Lifetime Achievement: Dr. Edward Chow

For Community Impact: Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center

Throughout the award ceremony three performances took to the stage with a glow stick performance, a Southern Asian dance troupe, and folk dance from a Burmese group. The finale for the awards ceremony was remarkable with community involvement from all parts of Asia, including that of Vietnam, China, Japan, Pacific Islanders, Burma, South Asia, and many others. The finale was very colorful, not to mention very entertaining.

Following the awards ceremony was a time of Asian styled refreshments from local restaurants and sponsors on the second floor of the War Memorial Building. The food was delicious and the attendance was great. Ending off the night with food and mingling, what more can one ask for. Congratulations to all the award winners and thank you to all the sponsors who made this night possible.

Pictures of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Awards can be seen by clicking on the picture link above. If this post was informative and helpful, please feel free to leave me a comment or donation below. Thank you.

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Noodle Fest: A Cultural and Culinary Celebration

Noodle Fest: A Cultural and Culinary Celebration (click here for images)

The First Noodle Festival took to the streets of San Francisco in two neighboring districts, North Beach and Chinatown. Each community creates their own awesome style of noodle on a daily basis, but which noodle reigns supreme of the community from which they are from. The Noodle Fest was brought to you buy the Chinatown Community Development Center and North Beach Merchants Association. Many showed up for this event for its first running and I believe it will not be its last.

The festival was held on Grant Street between the Pacific and Vallejo Streets. On each end of the festival were two great bands. On the Pacific Street Stage was Jest Jammin. A cover-band known for their funk and jazzy hits of the late 70s and 80s. On the Vallejo Street Stage was the MS Collective jazz band.

Throughout the event there were a couple of live demonstrations on how to make two types of noodles/pasta. Chef Shen demonstrated to the audience on how to make Shanghai dumplings, while Chef Carventz demonstrated how to roll out some pasta and make ravioli. Both demonstrations were pretty interesting.

The food at the festival was a hit with samplings from six vendors for $15 pre-ordered or $20 at the fest. Many vendors at the festival did not anticipate the high volume of supporters and thus did not have enough pasta to distribute to paying consumers. Nonetheless, I can tell by the all the faces that everyone was pleased by the great food and fun that they had. Perhaps next year, the festival will grow in size and more demonstrations will be featured on perhaps how to cook certain dishes. Until next year, we will see what happens. If the festival is put on again, make sure you venture out and tastes what North Beach and Chinatown have to offer.

Pictures of the Noodle Fest can be seen by clicking on the picture link above. If this post was informative and helpful, please feel free to leave me a comment or donation below. Thank you.