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AAPI Heritage Month Panel: “Home-Cooked”

May 01, 2018 - 4:00pm to 6:00pm

Join us as we celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Month (AAPI) Heritage Month at the Oviatt Library with SFV-based restaurateurs and food bloggers.

Meet our Home-cooked panelists:

Tien Nguyen

Tien Nguyen, Los Angeles food writer 

Tien Nguyen is a food and culture writer in Los Angeles. She co-authored the New York Times bestseller L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food with Roy Choi, and her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and Lucky Peach.

Carissa Ortega

Carissa Ortega, owner of Ninong Pastries

Carissa is a serial entrepreneur - venturing into industries such as the graphic design, ecommerce, entertainment, real estate, and restaurant industries. One of the highlights of her career is Ninong’s Cafe, a family owned and operated business that first opened its doors in October of 2008. After almost 10 years, she and her family moved their cafe to a larger space in Northridge with the goal of sharing their family’s Filipino recipes and culture with the world. She’s extremely passionate about entrepreneurship and mentoring, and has taken her knowledge to not only build her businesses but also help others do the same. In her spare time, you can find her binging a good TV show, having drinks with friends, experimenting with new recipes, and trying new food!

Kristine de la Cruz

Kristine de la Cruz, Creme Caramel

Partners, Kristine de la Cruz and Sean Gilleland, strive to develop comfort food with a twist while providing a community base for the surrounding neighborhood at Crème Caramel LA, a custard + confection dessert shop specializing in traditional and Filipino inspired ingredients and recipes. Kristine and Sean started in 2010 as a farmers’ market sweet booth and later opened a sweet bakeshop in Sherman Oaks in 2013. Their crème caramels, custard pies, and bread puddings, formed the base of the sweet offerings, but since opening their storefront, they’ve expanded their menu to savory quiches and stratas, and other delectable pastries and baked goods.

Rayson Esquejo

Rayson Esquejo, co-founder of FAHMLA

Rayson Esquejo is a social brand marketing professional, international speaker and content creator. He co-founded the Filipino American Heritage Movement of Los Angeles (FAHMLA), a non-profit organization dedicated to the economic stimulation, awareness, and integration of the Filipino-Angeleno community in Los Angeles through events. Rayson also co-produces the Eat Play Move LA Filipino Angeleno food festival, blogs at 2LiveAndDineInLA, and is general partner at Johnny Pacific, a street-food inspired restaurant in Canoga Park.

Discussion topics include:

  • Honoring one’s heritage/connecting with the past/nostalgia/inheritance and meaning-making through cooking and/or eating the ancestral cuisine.
  • Self-actualization; telling one’s story; traditional, or home-cooked, dishes with a modern/Angeleno multicultural twist; living in the present and planning for the future. One’s legacy and a different kind of oral history.
  • Politics: immigration policies, dredging up bad memories of the 1882 Chinese Exclusionary Act and 1924 Asian Exclusionary Act and Japanese internment. Cultural appropriation while people are being detained and deported, and stereotypes of immigrant restaurants: health code violations, bad service, etc. Los Angeles and the Rodney King riots/model minority. Restaurants as a cultural bridge/education/revolution re: Momofuku’s David Chang challenging the American notions of sanitized ethnic cuisine with the Netflix show Ugly Delicious.

A complimentary assortment of flavorful, cultural food samples will be provided.



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