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Port City Jam: How Long Beach is Connected to the West Coast Through Food at Music Tastes Good

12:07 PM PDT on September 18, 2018

    [dropcap size=big]C[/dropcap]hef Nancy León’s family moved to the bustling border town of Tijuana from Hong Kong; now she blends Mexican and Chinese food at her acclaimed Chan’s Bistro.

    Chef Jeff Vance “sails” through different coastal cuisines around the world (with craft beer pairings to match) at his James Beard-nominated Seattle restaurant, No Anchor.

    Chef Art Gonzalez, a 562 native, spent years in New Mexico’s esoteric fine-dining scene, which he now filters through his own German-Oaxacan lens at Long Beach’s Panxa.

    Later this month, these three chefs – along with a dozen others representing the glorious future-food fusion that defines West Coast port cities – will be cooking bites, talking on panels and presenting demos at Music Tastes Good, a two-day celebration of musical and culinary imports and exports taking place Sept. 29 and 30 at Marina Green in Long Beach.

    “We need to accept that there are a lot of these kinds of blended identities and organic mixtures out there. The idea of ‘authentic’ or ‘traditional’ food is increasingly becoming hard to define,” says Khanh Hoang, a former nurse and globally inspired pop-up chef who curated the chefs for the Taste Tent at Music Tastes Good this year.

    “It’s a small world and port cities, especially ones on the West Coast, are making it smaller every day.”

    With an emphasis on booking culinary creatives that match the diversity of its musical lineup Music Tastes Good is a local fest unlike any other. In service of this year’s “Import/Export” theme, Hoang flew up and down our coast, stopping in cities where immigration flows have collided over the last few generations and identifying restaurants in each that reflect the new concepts and flavors that could only happen as a result.

    To do this, Hoang gave herself a first-of-its-kind title: Chef Relations. Instead of sending awkward emails or calling on the phone to convince chefs to participate in the festival’s lofty vision of cultural exchange, Hoang saw the potential for more hospitality – “continuity of care,” as she says its known in the medical world.

    As Chef Relations for Music Tastes Good, Hoang traveled to Sacramento, Oakland, Vancouver, San Diego and more, meeting chefs in their own kitchens and touring the cities that created and support their careers.  

    “I went there and told them, ‘Tell me your story,’” Hoang says. “I wanted to take the time to get to know them and understand where they live and how it influences what they do.”

    Hoang’s own story is the product of a port city. Her parents landed in the San Gabriel Valley as refugees from Vietnam, so Hoang grew up surrounded by the richness of Los Angeles’ Chinese, Mexican and other Latin-American and Asian communities.

    “The one thing I talk about from an immigrant and refugee perspective is that my parents had this idea of not integrating. That’s what comforted them when they came here, so it makes sense,” she says. “But what happens is that their children, like me, are then able to feel comfortable integrating and mixing things up. Immigrant food is changing the face of what we call ‘American’ food. It’s time we start accepting that the future of American food isn’t going to be burgers and fries. The world is too small for that.”

    Music Tastes Good is two days of amazing music and food, and so much more at Marina Green Park in Downtown Long Beach, CA. Get your tickets here. Keep reading for the full "Taste Tent" lineup... 

    Taste Tent chefs include:

    Wesley Young of Vancouver's Pidgin

    Jeffery Vance of Seattle's No Anchor

    Cameron Hanin on Seattle's Ma’Ono

    Pat Manning of Portland's Toro Bravo

    Rachel Aronow, independent (formerly of San Francisco's Alembic)

    Sincere Justice of Oakland's Tacos Sincero

    Royce Burke of Yarrow in Los Angeles

    Ryan Ososky of Yardbird Southern Table & Kitchen in Los Angeles

    Michael Thiemann of Sacramento's Mother

    Dawna Bass of Long Beach's Under the Sun

    Jason Witzl of Long Beach's Ellie’s

    Aliye Aydin of Long Beach's A Good Carrot

    Dina Amadril of Long Beach Creamery

    Arthur Gonzales of Long Beach's Roe/Panxa Cocina

    Christine Rivera of San Diego's Galaxy Tacos

    Nancy Leon of Tijuana B.C.S.'s Chan’s Bistro.

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