Bay Area Life

Life through the viewfinder

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MISS CHINATOWN USA 2014: A New Queen Is Crowned

Miss Chinatown USA 2014 Karen Li.

Miss Chinatown USA 2014 Karen Li.

Hailing from the great state of Texas, 17 year old Karen Li was crowned Miss Chinatown USA 2014 earlier this month. Karen Li being one of the youngest in the pageant’s history plans to attend Harvard University in the Fall. Miss Li with high academic achievements and an extra-curricular schedule that keeps most teens overwhelmed, she’s doing all of it and working part-time as a tutor. Her journey to the stage started about a year ago and all of her hard work has surely paid off. Li took control of the stage with her graceful poise, wowed the audience with her amazing violin performance to Spring in Xin Jiang, and her response to the Q&A portion went without a hitch and because of that the judges had awarded her with not only the Miss Talent title, but also the title of Miss Chinatown USA.

In a quick look back, the Miss Chinatown USA Pageant began with twelve young ladies from six states embarking on a journey that would forever change their lives. For some delegates this pageant has been their very first on stage experience and for others this pageant has been something highly trained and anticipated. Having arrived six days prior to competition the twelve ladies took part in constant practice and dress rehearsals in preparation for the big show at the Palace of Fine Arts.

On the night of the pageant the ladies were judged on Introduction and Poise, Fitness and Form, Talent, and Question and Answer. The theme for this year’s pageant was Quest for Beauty / The Spice of Life with guest performer Angela Pang. Prior to each contestant and their opening introductions, each created a short cooking demonstration video about a favorite dish that is liked to have during the Chinese New Year. Although the judges were not given these dishes to taste, all twelve dishes looked very appetizing.

The day following the pageant, Miss Chinatown, her court, and the other delegates trekked up and down the streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown to visit several family and benevolent associations. These associations have family and cultural ties back to China. In a couple of the visited associations the ladies and members of the visited associations paid respects to ancestors of the host association and engaged in ancestral worship (i.e. bowing, burning incense and symbolic paper money, and food and drink offerings).

Over the next several days, the ladies toured tourist attractions throughout San Francisco, visited and gave fruit to some patients at San Francisco’s Chinese Hospital, met and greeted the elderly at the On-Lok Senior Center, and made a few media appearances with KTSF, Sing Tao Daily/Radio, World Journal, and Fong Brothers Printing.

Two major events that followed the Miss Chinatown Pageant were the Coronation Ball and the Chinese New Year Parade. The Coronation Ball took place this year at the Hilton Union Square. Mayor Ed Lee gave a brief speech before the ladies received their trophies. Miss Chinatown Karen Li was awarded with AT&T’s Miss Innovation Award because she won the title of Miss Talent and received the LG G Flex smartphone. Macy’s also honored Miss Li with a monetary gift. In addition to all the awards that were granted, the Coronation Ball is when Miss Congeniality is awarded. She is selected by the delegates of the pageant. Miss Congeniality for 2014 was awarded to Tiffany Au representing San Gabriel, CA. Having the formalities of awards and speeches out of the way, Miss Chinatown and the other delegates each danced a song with local dignitaries and the ball continued as open floor dancing went on throughout the night.

The following night Miss Chinatown did not have her parade rained upon as it occasionally happens during the Lunar New Year. The Chinese New Year Parade, one of the top viewed parades in the country, is the #1 leading night parade. Millions watched in person and on the air the parade’s 100+ units as the parade celebrated the “Year of the Horse”. As soon as the parade concluded, the skies wept a little, but did no help to California’s drought.

Miss Chinatown USA with the other delegates.

Miss Chinatown USA with the other delegates.

 

The results of the program are as follows:

  • Miss Chinatown USA; in addition to Miss Talent: Karen Li /Houston, TX
  • Miss Chinese Chamber of Commerce/1st Princess: Ka Man Lee / Seattle, WA
  • Miss San Francisco Chinatown: Mengying Liu / San Mateo, CA
  • Second Princess: Seun Seun Yim / Pasadena, CA
  • Third Princess: Judy Lee / San Francisco, CA
  • Fourth Princess: Kristen Hee / San Francisco, CA
  • Miss Congeniality: Tiffany Au / San Gabriel, CA

The Miss Chinatown USA Pageant has been a part of San Francisco’s history since 1958. The pageant presented by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce continues to provide young ladies the platform to promote self-empowerment through public speaking, acting, dancing, singing, etc. The pageant also strives to keep the preservation of Chinese culture, and allows the young ladies to participate in the community through various services and actions of goodwill.

Karen Li performing Spring in Xin Jiang.
Karen Li performing Spring in Xin Jiang.
 
Mengying Liu elegantly dances for her talent.Mengying Liu elegantly dances for her talent.
 
Jessalyn Lau demonstates her martial arts skills.Jessalyn Lau demonstates her martial arts skills.
 
Ka Man Lee sings her heart out to "I Dreamed A Dream".Ka Man Lee sings her heart out to “I Dreamed A Dream”.
 
Jessalyn Lau from Hawaii generously receives personalized gold jewelry and she offers her association with a gift in return of leis and treats.Jessalyn Lau from Hawaii generously receives personalized gold jewelry and she offers her association with a gift in return of leis and treats.
 
 Miss Chinatown and the delegates at an association visit.Miss Chinatown and the delegates at an association visit.
 
Miss Chinatown Karen Li and Chinese Chamber of Commerce President Kenny Tse with the first dance.Miss Chinatown Karen Li and Chinese Chamber of Commerce President Kenny Tse with the first dance.
Local dignitaries and Miss Chinatown delegates with their first dance.
Local dignitaries and Miss Chinatown delegates with their first dance.

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

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46th Annual Cherry Blossom Queen Program

Cherry Blossom Queen 2013, Kelly Yuka Walton and her court.

Cherry Blossom Queen 2013, Kelly Yuka Walton and her court.

The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival hosted its 46th program this past Saturday at the Sundance Kabuki Cinema. The theme for this year’s program was Back to Basics. Returning to the stage to emcee the event was Jana Katsuyama of KTVU and George Kiriyama of NBC Bay Area.

To honor and remember the earthquake and tsunami that occurred two years ago in Japan, the five queen candidates each wore teal ribbons and the festival’s 45th year pin to symbolize that their thoughts are still with the victims and survivors.

Queen candidates each presented their own speech, conducted an impromptu interview, and each one graced the stage with their creative expression presentation. For their creative expression segment, three candidates performed dance, one created and presented a short film, and one candidate drew using inspiration from the audience.

The results for this year’s program are as follows:

  • Cherry Blossom Queen Kelly Yuka Walton
  • First Princess Jamie Sachiko Martyn
  • Tomodachi Award Recipient Tiffany Sieu Okimura
  • Prince Kimberly Miya Sasaki
  • Prince Michiko Marie Maggi

 

Cherry Blossom Queen Kelly received a kimono and accessory set courtesy of Fujiyasu Kimono Company. She also received a trip to Japan courtesy of Japan Airlines and the Queen Award presented by Allen Okamoto.

Cherry Blossom Queen, Kelly Yuka Walton, along with her court will be a part of the Cherry Blossom Festival Grand Parade on Sunday, April 21st at 1pm.

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

Cherry Blossom 2012 Queen and court.

Cherry Blossom 2012 Queen and court.

The 2013 Cherry Blossom Queen’s Kimono created by Fujiyasu Kimono Company.

The 2013 Cherry Blossom Queen’s Kimono created by Fujiyasu Kimono Company.

The candidates display their kimonos during the opening routine.

The candidates display their kimonos during the opening routine.

Kimberly Miya Sasaki gives her individual speech.

Kimberly Miya Sasaki gives her individual speech.

Jamie Sachiko Martyn bows to the audience after her individual speech.

Jamie Sachiko Martyn bows to the audience after her individual speech.

Kelly Yuka Walton gives her individual speech.

Kelly Yuka Walton gives her individual speech.

Emcees Jana Katsuyama of KTVU and George Kiriyama of NBC Bay Area present candidates with questions to answer during the individual impromptu interviews.

Emcees Jana Katsuyama of KTVU and George Kiriyama of NBC Bay Area present candidates with questions to answer during the individual impromptu interviews.

Jamie Sachiko Martyn answers her question during the impromptu interview.

Jamie Sachiko Martyn answers her question during the impromptu interview.

Michiko Marie Maggi explains her film.

Michiko Marie Maggi explains her film.

Tiffany Sieu Okimura performs an Odori dance.

Tiffany Sieu Okimura performs an Odori dance.

Tiffany Sieu Okimura performs an Odori dance.

Another image of Tiffany Sieu Okimura’s Odori dance.

Jamie Sachiko Martyn freely draws using inspiration from the audience of what to draw.

Jamie Sachiko Martyn freely draws using inspiration from the audience of what to draw.

Jamie Sachiko Martyn is crowned the Cherry Blossom First Princess.

Jamie Sachiko Martyn is crowned the Cherry Blossom First Princess.

Kelly Yuka Walton is crowned as the 2013 Cherry Blossom Queen.

Kelly Yuka Walton is crowned as the 2013 Cherry Blossom Queen.

 

Kelly Yuka Walton is crowned and presented with the kimono from the Fujiyasu Kimono Company.

Kelly Yuka Walton is crowned and presented with the kimono from the Fujiyasu Kimono Company.

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Alice Summerthing 2012

Alice Summerthing 2012

Radio Station Alice put on their annual free Summerthing Concert in Golden Gate Park at the renamed Hellman Hollow (formerly known as Speedway Meadow) Thousands came to check out the lineup featuring Vicci Martinez, Graffiti6, Scars on 45, Boys Like Girls, and Adam Lambert.

What more can you ask for on a Sunday afternoon, picnic? food trucks? giveaways? quality time with friends? live music? and girls screaming at the top of their lungs? I can do without the screaming. It always boggles my mind as to why people actually scream when they see their favorite musician or singer. Maybe clapping is a good response to saying that some musical artist has done a good job is good, but screaming, I could never understand. Please spare my ears so I can actually listen to the music.

The performances were lively, but unfortunately the artists were out of my element of familiarity. At most each artist performed only one of their more popular hits. Nevertheless, the show was entertaining and seeing that the crowd was really into it gave proof that the show was great.

Alice Summerthing 2012 was cool, now let’s look forward to Alice’s Now and Zen Concert 2012 later this year.

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Alice Summerthing 2012 (1)

Do you like bubbles? There were plenty at Alice Summerthing 2012.

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Vicci Martinez photographing with a fan after her performance.

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Jamie Scott on the acoustic guitar at Summerthing 2012.

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Pete Cherry of Graffiti6 on the bass.

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Graffiti6 duo (TommyD and Jamie Scott) jammin' at Summerthing 2012.

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Danny Bemrose of Scars 45 on lead guitar and vocals.

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Scars on 45 Chris Durling bangin' the drums.

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Stuart Nichols of Scars on 45 lays down the bass beats.

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David Nowakowski on the keys.

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Vocalist Aimee Driver of Scars on 45

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Vocalist Aimee Driver of Scars on 45.

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Martin Johnson of Boys Like Girls on lead vocals and electric guitar.

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Martin Johnson of Boys Like Girls feeling the energy from the crowd.

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Martin Johnson of Boys Like Girls better be wearing some Speedos because it can get chilly in SF.

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Paul DiGiovanni of Boys Like Girls generating energy for the crowd.

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Boys Like Girls Morgan Dorr on the bass.

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shhh listen...

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Adam Lambert's bassist and drummer rockin' it at Summerthing 2012.

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Hittin' the keys for Adam Lambert.

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Love the reflection on Adam Lambert's shades.

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Tommy Joe Ratliff on Electric Guitar for Adam Lambert.

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Adam Lambert and his fierce stare.

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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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Northern California Soy & Tofu Festival 2012 (13)

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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Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary Celebration

Golden Gate Bridge 75

The Golden Gate Bridge celebrated 75 years on May 27th. A bridge that was said can never be built because of various circumstances started construction in the early 1930s and opened on May 27, 1937. The bridge is seen as one of the “Wonders of the World” and is painted with a coat of International Orange paint to help preserve the steel cables and structure from corrosion.

The festival for the bridge was similar to that of a street festival, but held at Marina Green and Crissy Field. Unlike the 50th Anniversary where people were allowed to walk on the bridge, the 75th Anniversary prohibited vehicle lane closures on the bridge for pedestrian use. It was reported that the bridge actually dropped 6ft due to the excess weight. For the bridge to keep its structural integrity it was said that bridge walks of that size and magnitude will no longer occur. Instead the alternative was to hold a festival in the bridge’s honor instead. This year the festival was full of music, food, bridge history and education, corporate vendors, an amazing fireworks show, and much more.

One of the most educational and touching displays that had the most impact on me was one that displayed shoes and chalk outlined shoe prints. The display was to encourage awareness of “jumpers” and to petition for putting up a net under the bridge to prevent jumpers from jumping and to catch them as a safety net. Volunteers and some family members of victims for this educational display wore black T-shirts that displayed the number 1558. That number is the number of victims that came to the bridge as to find a way out of life. Of the 1558 jumping victims, a little over 30 survived the fall. Each pair of shoes represented a jumper. Of the pairs of shoes, some were actual pairs of shoes given to display as a remembrance by the victim’s loved ones and the other remaining shoes were just purely symbolic. The chalk outlined foot prints represented those that jumped and their remains were never recovered.

The representation of the “1558″ display reminded me of a 2006 documentary that was filmed and written by Eric Steel entitled “The Bridge”. Where he interviews family and friends of the victims and even captures footage of such a tragedy. The bridge has been seen to be a magnet for people to come, but I would never recommend to take the easy way out. There’s always help and someone that can help with your pain. All I can say is, “Don’t do it. There’s so much to live for, even though things may not be clear for you in your exact moment of trouble or suffering.” Help is always just around the corner, you just have to look.

On a much happier note, two main stages, one at Marina Green and the other at Crissy Field, booked musical artists that entertained guests from 11am to 9:30pm, with a break for fireworks and the Mickey Hart Band to finish off the festival at 10pm at the Crissy Field Stage. Food vendors were located throughout the festival. Lines were extremely long for hot food items; therefore, patience is a virtue.

The fireworks show was one of the best shows that I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime. One thing, however, that I disliked about the show was that integrity of the show was not concentrated in one location on the water. I, along with other media, assumed that the show would be contained at the bridge and under the bridge. Little did we know was that the show would spread out along the waterfront. What a horrible decision to do that because it makes it much more difficult to capture the show on camera and video camera because no one ever wants to reposition a camera back and forth and adjust camera settings throughout the show.

Although constantly changing camera position/direction and settings bothered me greatly, I’ve seen some amazing video and photos of others on the internet, but even they had the opportunity to only capture a small number of money shots. I, particularly, had a hard time because the one thing that I feared most to happen had happened. My camera battery died right at the beginning of the show and I had to put in a replacement. The next thing that I found to be extremely difficult was to juggle between two cameras to do videography and photography at the same time. This is a no-no. Never do this. I was so excited for this fireworks show that I wanted to capture every single moment by myself. It’s just way too complicated to do two things at the same time. Lesson learned.

Overall the fireworks and light show was phenominal. The weather sure cooperated as there was no heavy fog and it was windy enough to blow the smoke away. This show allowed for me to experience for the first time the bridge lights turned completely off, with the exception of the red aerial lights atop the towers and cables sections. Several other features of the show seemed to amaze me, like seeing a downward stream of falling fireworks that created a wall of fire underneath the center span of the bridge to the water. The colored spot lights moving all around on the bridge and on a couple of boats added more drama to the show. Lastly, the traditional fireworks display was spectacular with so much color and various variety of shapes. I love pyrotechnics.

Many congratulations to the Golden Gate Bridge as it celebrated it’s 75th Anniversary. If you thought that this festival was amazing, I wonder how much more grand the 100th anniversary will be. Hope to see you all there in 25 years.

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Golden Gate Bridge 75 (1)

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San Francisco Carnaval Grand Parade 2012

Carnaval Grand Parade

The Carnaval Grand Parade has to got to be one of the most colorful vibrant parades out there. This lively festival of colors took to the streets on Sunday. The weather for the day was overcast, but thank goodness that the rain stayed away and the harsh sun was behind those clouds. Temperature was warm, yet breezy and chilly. Those of you that are from San Francisco know what I mean.

The parade started off promptly at 9:30am and lasted for almost three hours. The streets were crowded and full of people eagerly waiting for the festivities. People brought their video cameras and photo cameras to capture this momentous occasion. Children lined the front-lines of the crowds and surprisingly the onlookers were tame with no pushing and shoving.

The parade had units representing countries from all over. Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean islands, and even Africa showed off their culture with song and dance. Streets were lined up with children in ethnic costumes and men and women practically stole the show with elaborate costumes as well. Crazy as it may seem other than the Bay to Breakers, women were practically half naked with boas, feathers, hats, and thongs. This is one of a couple of festivals that display a lot of skin, conservatively speaking.

Highlights of the parade would have to be seeing the entertainers and participants just loving what they were doing and smiling. It’s always a true inspiration to have something in this city that promotes such laughter and joy. Must be something in our water.

Following the parade, the procession led the crowd followers near to the Carnaval festival site that was on Harrison Street. If you missed out on the parade, be sure to check it out next year as it’s always a great time.

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Carnaval Grand Parade (1)

Carnaval Grand Parade (2)

Grand Marshall for the parade was a singer from Beach Blanket Babylon

Carnaval Grand Parade (4)

The Grand Marshall Float

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2012 King Roberto & Queen Ashlee

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The famous Leonard Oats Cable Car Ringing Champion of many years

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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

8th Asian Heritage Street Celebration (2)

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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Asian Pacific American Heritage Awards Ceremony 2012

APA Awards 2012

The Asian Pacific American Heritage Awards Ceremony took place at the elegant Herbst Theatre located within the War Memorial Building on Van Ness Avenue on Monday. A huge turnout of guests attended this yearly event that kicks off Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in San Francisco. San Francisco May0r Ed Lee made it official in San Francisco by signing a proclamation in the midst of SF politicians, dignitaries, sponsors, and citizens of the city and neighboring cities.

The program started off with a the singing of the National Anthem by the SF Gay Men’s Choir. Emceeing the program was KPIX’s Thuy Vu, who started in the San Francisco’s CBS affiliate as a news anchor/reporter, but now co-hosts CBS San Francisco’s “Eye on the Bay”. The program highlighted many of the local sponsors that made this whole program possible, community leaders that also helped put together the program, various Asian community groups that performed traditional dances, the awards ceremony, and the surprise reveal of a wonderfully made birthday cake for Mayor Ed Lee.

Following the program, a lengthy list of food and drink sponsors hosted tastings from their businesses in the Green Room and the balcony that overlooks Van Ness Ave. and City Hall. More information about the event can be seen at www.apasf.org

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APA Awards 2012 (1)

SF Gay Men's Choir sings the National Anthem

APA Awards 2012 (2)

CBS San Francisco's "Eye on the Bay" Thuy Vu emcees the program

APA Awards 2012 (3)

SF Mayor Ed Lee signs the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month proclamation

APA Awards 2012 (4)

APA Awards 2012 (5)

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APA Awards 2012 (8)

APA Awards 2012 (9)

Emalyn Lapus receives the Community Leadership Award

APA Awards 2012 (10)

"4C the Power" receives the Community Impact Award

APA Awards 2012 (11)

APA Awards 2012 (12)

Cute kid comes out from the center of the group punching and kicking

Cute kid comes out from the center of the group punching and kicking

SF Mayor Ed Lee is surprised with a wonderful birthday cake

SF Mayor Ed Lee is surprised with a wonderful birthday cake

SF Mayor Ed Lee blows out the candles on his cake

SF Mayor Ed Lee blows out the candles on his cake

SF Mayor Ed Lee laughs as he realizes that the candles are "trick candles"

SF Mayor Ed Lee laughs as he realizes that the candles are "trick candles"

SF Mayor Ed Lee takes the first cut into his cake

SF Mayor Ed Lee takes the first cut into his cake

SF Mayor Ed Lee and KPIX's Thuy Vu dance on stage with the performers dressed in traditional Asian ethnic wear

SF Mayor Ed Lee and KPIX's Thuy Vu dance on stage with the performers dressed in traditional Asian ethnic wear

SF Mayor Ed Lee's cake before it is cut and served to APA Awards guests

SF Mayor Ed Lee's cake before it is cut and served to APA Awards guests

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45th Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Program

Queen Program

The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Program last night put on it’s 45th Annual Program. This year five lovely ladies competed for the queen title. Miki Fukai, Asaki Osato, Megumi Yoshida, Manami Kidera, and Chihiro Hirai put on a great show at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas in Japantown.

Scoring for the competition was broken up into five catagories: Essay (15%), Personal Interview (20%), Introduction Speech (20%), On-Stage Interview (30%), and Talent (15%)

The competition started off with introduction speeches in traditional kimonos, the ladies then sat down to answer five questions with a 4-minute limit, but none of the contestants used up their whole time. The ladies then presented gifts to their sponsors followed up with the talent portion of the program.

Talent portion started with Chihiro Hirai who performed a monologue. Manami Kidera sang a song in Japanese. Asaki Osato danced to her own choreographed dance. Miki Fukai played the trumpet with accompanied music. Megumi Yoshida sang a song in English with an accompanied bass player.

Following the talent portion, some awards were given out and the 2011 Cherry Blossom Queen and her court came up on stage. Queen Jeddie Kawahatsu gave her closing remarks about her court and she thanked them individually.

Lastly, the ladies came out on stage in their evening wear and performed a quick routine before they lined up to have the winners announced. When the names were being called the moment that was unforgettable was when the Queen was to be announced. Asaki Osato was stunned to find out that her name was being called. She was in disbelief. As she was being sashed and crowned she gave out a couple of confused-like grunts as if she couldn’t believe it. This made parts of the audience laugh as the theater was silent with no background music. Everyone could hear her and see her smirks. Just made me laugh inside, but trust me I was trying to keep my composure as a photographer.

Overall, the program was good though this is one of the first pageants that I’ve been to that had less than at least nine contestants. The lighting was a bit disappointing, but then again, this is moreso a movie theater and not really a theater focusing on live performances, though there are performances there sometimes.

Queen Program results for 2012:

Queen: Asaki Osato

1st Princess: Megumi Yoshida

Tomodachi Award Recipient (Miss Congeniality): Miki Fukai

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Queen Program (1)

Queen Program (2)

Queen Program (3)

Queen Program (4)

Queen Program (5)

Queen Program (6)

Queen Program (7)

Queen Program (8)

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