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Southeast Asia Got Something to Say

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Southeast Asia Got Something to Say

Part of CULINASIA: The Future of Asian Food in America

Presented in collaboration with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Evening Program on Zoom

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1L0407
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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Materials for this program

NOTE: Free program, registration required.

Before the pandemic, opening a Southeast Asian restaurant, bar, or food business was an uphill battle. Over the last few decades, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and other Asian cuisines have become increasingly familiar to the American palate, both at home and in restaurants. Yet the national awareness and appreciation of Southeast Asian food has transformed much more slowly from curiosity and rejection to a craving that lingers long after the first flavor-packed bite.

What makes Southeast Asian cooking and eating truly unique goes beyond the pungent flavors, colorful ingredients, and history of immigration often associated with the businesses built on these lesser-known culinary treasures. How will these cultural hubs keep their doors open during a global pandemic against doubly stacked odds, with anti-Asian racism at an all-time high? Is Southeast Asian food still on the rise? Can it maintain its pre-pandemic momentum as it approaches mainstream popularity—and, eventually, even ubiquity?

Hear from celebrity chefs and restaurateurs Jet Tila, Food Network star and chef partner in Pei Wei Restaurant Group, and Christine Hà, the first blind contestant of “MasterChef”—and winner of its third season in 2012—and owner of The Blind Goat and Xin Chào in Houston. Then follow along as Genevieve Villamora, co-owner of the award-winning restaurant Bad Saint in Washington, D.C., and Vilailuck "Pepper" Teigen, author of The Pepper Thai Cookbook: Family Recipes from Everyone's Favorite Thai Mom (Clarkson Potter), demonstrate a recipe from the new cookbook.

Book Sale Information


Asian foods and cooking have long been an indelible part of America’s food culture, and yet we also harbor complicated relationships with the people who prepare our meals.  Earlier this year, Asian American activists carried signs reading “Love Us Like You Love Our Food” as they denounced a surge of anti-Asian racism in communities across the United States during the global pandemic.

CULINASIA is a dynamic, free series of virtual conversations that explore food legacies and the ways in which Asian Diaspora cuisine continues to change and enrich our lives. Join chefs, food writers, food entrepreneurs, home cooks, cookbook authors, and other participants whose heritage and experiences span the complex spectrum of Asian Diaspora identities in the United States as they discuss the successes, challenges, and future of Asian food in America.

CULINASIA is curated by Burmese American restaurateur and cultural connector Simone Jacobson.

The series received federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

Recordings of these programs will be posted on the Freer and Sackler Gallery's YouTube channel within the next few weeks:

Additional CULINASIA programs

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