“One of the remarkable things about America is that nearly all of our families originally came from someplace else. We’re a nation of immigrants. It’s a source of our strength and something we all can take pride in.” – Barack Obama
June is Immigrant Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the diversity that the United States is founded on and the contributions that immigrants continue to make in our country. Immigrant Heritage Month is an initiative that was created in June 2014 by Welcome.us. The focus is to 1. give each person an opportunity to explore their own heritage, 2. gather and share stories to create understanding and 3. to take action by supporting immigrant coworkers, family members, employees, neighbors and friends.
At FoodtoEat, we work directly with women, minority and immigrant-run food businesses throughout NYC because we believe that food is one of the key components of a city’s culture. Without the immigrant businesses that contribute to that culture, you lose a part of the city’s identity. Which is why we are partnering with General Assembly for a panel event in honor of Immigrant Heritage Month, celebrating the immigrant-run businesses that we work with and listening to a few of the stories of vendors that are open to sharing them with us and you!
The panel will be taking place on Wednesday, June 20th from 6:30-8:30PM and will include food that reflects the culture of each panelist. Below is information about each of our panelists and how they came to be involved in New York City’s food industry. RSVP today so that you don’t miss out on this extremely important event that will discuss the issues facing the immigrant population in the United States, the factors that affect restaurant owners and the food industry as a whole, and why our mission of supporting local food businesses is so important.
Kay Ch’ien, Hey Hey Canteen
Kay was born in Singapore and raised in Hong Kong, where she grew up surrounded by her family’s food business and the delicious and diverse cuisines of both cities. In between college and law school, she spent a fascinating year exploring her family’s roots in Beijing, teaching English and eating her way through the metropolis. A job offer at a law firm allowed her to fulfill a lifelong goal of moving to New York City. After six years as an attorney, she decided to leave “Big Law” to pursue her true passion: Asian cuisine. In 2014 Kay opened the well-received farm to table Chinese restaurant, 2 Duck Goose, and in 2016 she teamed up with Carlos Barrera to bring delicious and wholesome Asian dishes to Brooklyn with the launch of Hey Hey Canteen.
Siwat Thitiwatana, Mamu Thai Noodle
Mamu Thai Noodle started as a food truck in 2013 by Siwat and his sister. It was the first Thai food truck in NYC dedicated to Thai noodle dishes. From a successful Kickstarter campaign to the mean streets of NYC to a brick & mortar in Queens to a corporate catering company, the path to fruition was not a conventional one for this company. Using family recipes from his uncle’s noodle shop in Bangkok as well as a few of Chef Siwat’s own, Mamu Thai has just celebrated it’s most successful year to date!
PriaVanda Chouhan, Desi Galli
Owner PriaVanda Chouhan and her husband opened Desi Galli in 2012 to satisfy the Desi (Indian sub-continent disapora) hankering for Indian soul food. Desi is a Hindustani term for the people, cultures and products of the Indian subcontinent or South Asia and is derived from Sanskrit which means “one from our country”. Galli symbolizes an “alley” or “street”. Though her father warned her husband-to-be that she couldn’t cook, PriaVanda taught herself to make not only her mother’s recipes but also her husband’s family favorites. Inspired by Rachael Ray’s fast and easy methods for putting dinner on the table in under 30 minutes, she turned her home kitchen into a test kitchen, mastering a multitude of Indian recipes every day and developing her own personal style of lighter, healthier, vegan and gluten free cooking without sacrificing flavor.
Their restaurant specializes in Kathi (or Kati) Rolls, Vada Pav, Chaats and Biryani, all of which is prepared in front of diners in their restaurant’s open kitchen. Since they opened they have been featured in a variety of different outlets such as: The Rachael Ray Show, ABC News, TimeOut, Jus Punjabi and the NY Times. They have also been voted best sandwich for their Aloo & Paneer Tikki by Time Out and voted one of the best dishes in NYC by Village Voice for their Bhel Puri.
Charles Chipengule, Jaa Dijo Dom
Charles was born and raised in Botswana, Africa. He is a mechanical electrician and chef by profession. Growing up in Africa, he had a passion for food and simply loved cooking. After graduating from high school, he was able to save up just enough money to open a breakfast food stall, which helped him fund his technical college and culinary courses. However, due to the dire economic conditions in Botswana, Charles eventually had to close down his breakfast stall and emigrated to the United States. After arriving in the United States, Charles worked in restaurants and pursued his cooking dream, despite a great learning curve and increased responsibility. He took culinary classes in New York and got inspired to share the richness and flavor of the African food of his past.
Charles believes in good, healthy eating, which is why he sources his African peppers and herbs straight from Africa, grinding it all in house. All of the unique African dishes that he creates have been handed down through generations and are currently being made all over Africa on a daily basis, from nations North, South, East and West. Today he turns those daily, basic dishes into a meal you will never forget!