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Changing Images of Chinese Food: The Symposium Report

by Robert Goldberg

Conferences, Meetings, Announcements, and Reports

Spring Volume: 1997 Issue: 4(1) page(s): 21


More than sixty Chinese gourmets, restauranteurs, and food/restaurant industry experts gathered on September 27, 1996 at Henry Leung’s Café Evergreen in New York City under the auspices of the Institute for the Advancement of the Science and Art of Chinese Cuisine (ISACC). They listened to and discussed: Changing Images of Chinese Food and Cuisine. During the symposium, both attendees and presenters interchanged ideas about the Chinese restaurant industry. Their stimulating discussions dealt with positive issues and with then negative media attention initiated by the Center for Science in the Public Interest whose studies created public concern about healthy nutrition.

Presenters and topics included:

Dr. Austin H. Kutscher, Chairperson of ISACC who introduced the symposium and spoke about goals and plans of ISACC. Then Dr. Wen-Chau Chiu of Won Ton Foods in Brooklyn, New York, an ISACC corporate sponsor, told of the accord with the American-Chinese Food Society (CAFS), the new and ongoing sponsor of ISACC symposia and programs. Next Edward Schoenfeld of the Riese Organization addressed the issues of Chinese restaurants in a world of non-Chinese dining establishments.

Henry Leung, owner of Cafe Evergreen in New York City, and host restaurant for the symposium, gave the keynote presentation on why there are fewer first class Chinese restaurants now than in the sixties, and why wines have a rightful place in the Chinese restaurant and in the home. Irving Chang, food chemist and ISACC Board Member, followed; he reviewed the passing years, and the passing scene.

Tim Zagat, of Zagat Restaurant Surveys, enlightened about Zagat survey's rating approach for Chinese and other Restaurants. Next, Dr. Mabel Chan of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University provided guidelines for healthy cooking and the need for courses to facilitate upgrading of health conscious cooking by restaurant chefs.

Mark M. Lii, of the Ten Ren Tea & Ginseng Company, told about tea's rightful place in the Chinese Restaurant. Then, Dr. Jacqueline M. Newman, Chairperson of the Family, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences Department at Queens College, and editor of Flavor & Fortune, detailed why there are complexities doing a full analysis of Chinese foods and recipes.

Charles Tang, author, chef, and often a Chinese restaurant industry spokesperson, told how to combat bad press with corrective approaches. Next David Louie, a restaurant industry insurance expert, discussed insurance requirements that relate to Chinese restaurants, followed by Arlene Wanderman, nutritionist with Foodcom, Inc., reported on possibilities for and uses of olive oil in the Chinese kitchen.

Catherine Broithier, of Ajinomoto U.S.A., updated about current research about mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) and its safety and efficacy. Next, Dr. Zhi Yuan Wang of the Dermatology Department at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, talked of his research and the benefits and risks drinking tea; and Shun Lu, a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Georgia, shared data about the Chinese restaurant scene.

Prior to the Chinese banquet dinner served at the conclusion of the symposium, Dr. Kutscher described ISACC’s Jade Chopsticks Award ceremonies to be held at New York University April 18, 1997. This first of its kind event has been established to recognize and honor selected Chinese restaurants, chefs, cook book authors, food columnists, and others who contribute expertise and consciousness-raising about Chinese cuisine.

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