When someone mentions "Chinese food" thoughts of cheap, greasy, heat-burn inducing takeout food often comes to mind. Chinese cuisine is a case of "lost in translation" if I've ever seen one. Eileen Yin-Fei Lo has a whole section in her book Chinese Kitchen dedicated to telling the story of how dishes like General Tso's Chicken and Chop Suey came to be and the original dishes they were based on. The changes were partly due to the availability of ingredients and partly due to the fact that many early Chinese immigrants were laborers, not chefs.
"Real" Chinese food can be elegant and refined and the James Beard Foundation decided to showcase Chinese cuisine in their annual gala and conference this year. The Dumplings and Dynasties Gala tonight will feature food from leading Chinese chef's from both the US and China with dishes like "Tea-Smoked Duck Breast, Cold Lobster in Jelly, and Vegetable Marrow with Assorted Vegetables" and "Chilled Coconut Milk and Bird’s Nest Jelly in Icewine–Poached Pear, Egg White Tartlet" on the menu. The 2 day conference on Friday and Saturday feature panels, presentations and workshops highlighting the rich diversity of the food.
While I don't have the cash these days to plunk down for the gala or conference, Foodbuzz got me into a preview event hosted at Chinatown Brasserie (one of my favourite places for dim sum in Manhattan). Below is a little photo tour of what I saw and tasted:-)
Joe Ng from from Chinatown brasserie made these scenes entirely from food.
People from the James Beard Foundation and one of the guest chefs.
Peking Duck with duck shaped buns
Crazy table centerpiece made from fruit
Assorted dim sum were making the rounds