2020 Thoughts & Updates
I realize there are way more important things going on this year than my personal journey, but I felt it necessary to give an update on the promises I laid out this summer.
I started out not being sure of my place within my community. So I’ve dug in deeper and worked harder towards a goal of improving myself and truly understanding the consequences of my actions. It’s been six months since I’ve taken actionable steps to make positive change.
As you may remember, I made some specific goals around how to make reparations for my actions and give back to the community. Since June, I’ve donated monthly to an Austin-based charity that speaks to me, my culture, and my experience; I’ve completed more therapy in Houston concerning my addiction and mental health; and I’m still continuing therapy in Denver to further my healing and understanding of code switching and the challenges of being an integrated Asian man in America. Unfortuanately due to COVID, I was not able to launch my quarterly fundraising dinners but I hope to do this in the new year.
It brings tears to my eyes how my work family-old and new-have embraced me. For a long time I felt ashamed to step into anything I’ve help create or even reach out and support my friends and the restaurants I love. I hope you know that I’ve never turned my back on my industry and that it was my deep shame that kept me away. It took a lot of work for me to realize I can be worthy of you again-as long as continue the hard work I’ve started. Being part of team and being part of the community makes me the chef I am.
I’m looking forward to 2021 for a lot of reasons…as I’m sure all of you are. I’m grateful to be able to work with the Denver, Houston, Austin, and Miami communities and receive your continued support. There are a lot of exciting projects on the horizon and I can’t wait to share them with you and The FAM.
Happy Holidays and stay tuned!
Cooking Up Some Change
The current cultural moment in time has led me to reflect on the concept of reparations.
It took seeing the collective frustrations of a marginalized group of people to see making my own amends as necessary if I want to heal the hurt I have caused and move forward meaningfully with my career. The many corporations paying lip service to support and change reminded me of my own inaction over the past four years.
I now see that if I don’t make make specific and actionable change — in a variety of areas — I have not learned my lesson and don’t deserve to advance in my chosen craft.
It is important for me to restate my professional mission
I stand for a respectful, open, and creative work environment. I lead by example and never require anything from my staff that I am not willing to do myself. I have always looked up to Albert Adria and his famous quote of “shut up and work.”
I’m collaborating on several new and existing projects with FAM Hospitality Group. Thai Kun, East Side King, and Soy Pinoy are open and we’ll be starting special weekly dinners and private dining events at each location very soon.
In the Works
I’m creating some mental health grants (see below) and mentoring troubled young men in my kitchens who need a clear path forward. I am happy to be working in conjunction with a variety of Denver agencies to give these men the tools they need to do honorable work and stay out of trouble.
More on this to come as I am finalizing the organizational streams now.
For Our Food Family
After rehab and continued meetings with a therapist, I have begun to understand how my culture has intersected with my living as a first-generation Asian American and how this inherent stress has led me to make such poor choices, particularly with respect to my domestic violence incident in 2016.
I have committed to hosting quarterly dinners and will donate 100% of proceeds to Austin and Denver Asian mental health advocacy organizations. I will be rolling out these partnership details shortly. I realize I need to give back significantly to these great communities I have unsettled and this is one measurable way I can promote systemic change.