On Food and Cooking
I’ve been cooking since I was six, mostly out of necessity of being a latchkey kid. Over the years, my interest in cooking continued to grow; between my college years and today, I’ve developed a renewed passion for not only cooking, but also improving my technique, expanding my skillset, studying gastronomy, and exploring all the different food the world has to offer.
I grew up in a Thai-American household in a very diverse predominantly Asian-American community in Cerritos, CA (a suburb in the Los Angeles area). The foundation of my cooking has a strong Asian-Pacific and Californian influence, but as I cook, learn, and eat more, I’m hoping to forever keep expanding my tastes and my styles.
Eat Kune Do
Eat Kune Do is my main food project; it's a term I've coined to represent my philosophy on cooking and food as well as a monthly dinner series. The term is a play on words from Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do: a martial arts philosophy that I can most concisely sum up as ascension from form. Wikipedia mentions the term “style without style”.
For the dinner series, I invite guests over for dinner, ask them to share their food preferences, memories, and experiences, and then use their responses to curate and cook a menu of two to five courses. I then ask for a suggested donation on a sliding scale to help cover the costs.
It's also a chance to bring people together, whether they be close friends or simply should become close friends through my dinner.
To be precise, it's a pop-up supper club. I try to hold one monthly, but realistically it happens every other month when I'm available. I host at my own apartment, so I can only host three guests per dinner until I get a bigger table.
My ideas behind Eat Kune Do are not nearly as deep in concept. I’m essentially working toward a culinary style that goes beyond yesteryear’s buzzword of “fusion.” “Fusion” so often refers to a trend that has peaked in the 90s– of taking Western (often French) culinary dishes, and giving them a small touch of “Eastern” or “Asian” flavors or ingredients (often “Chinese”), or worse yet, giving “Asian” treatments to otherwise Western dishes (a la “Southwest Egg Rolls”).
Which is not to say those cuisines are illegitimate or not to be enjoyed; rather that they represented a polarized perception of food and cooking that we have grown past. We live in an era of Korean taco trucks, of slow and local food movements, of changing values causing oxtail and short rib to somehow cost the same as cuts of steak, where the sushi I get from the Japanese grocery store for lunch is a third of the price of the gourmet burger I’ll have that evening. Our food exists on too many planes and axes for us to think of food as the culinary synthesis that is “fusion.”
Eat Kune Do is about the right flavor for the right moment. In cooking, it’s about thinking beyond (though not disregarding) a couple of culinary cultures, and painting with the palette of flavors and ingredients available to us to achieve what one wants their food to be. What results may be experimental and radical or beautifully simple and traditional. In life, Eat Kune Do is the constant exploration and experience of food and flavor, of cooking and eating.
Find out more about the dishes and dinner series on my site at www.eatkunedo.com.