Memories of Chinatown's golden age and chef James Sam took place at Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant on Thursday, April 18th.
A Moment to Remember” was billed as a celebration of the
life of the late James Sam, better known as “Sam”, former chef and
owner of Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant. The Friends of Foo's Ho Ho ad-hoc committee has been gathering friends to raise the profile of Chinatown's last traditional Cantonese pioneer cuisine restaurant in Vancouver Chinatown. Jim Wong-Chu and Jacqueline Young have been spearheading the group which has been holding monthly dinners.
This was a special event because it recognized the contributions and talents of James Sam, who used to be the head chef at WK Gardens, Marco Polo and Foo's restaurants before starting his own restaurant up the street. Sam re-opened the abandoned Ho Ho Restaurant site a number of year's ago, and re-named it Foo's Ho Ho. Last July, Sam went to the hospital for cancer treatment, and word spread in the community that Foo's Ho Ho would close soon. My friend Jim Wong-Chu sent out invitations for a “Last Night at Foo's” which I blogged about http://www.gunghaggisfatchoy.com/blog/_archives/2009/7/12/4253641.html
This night's dinner was full of gaiety and celebration with 100 seats. Lively jazz vocal music greeted arriving guest courtesy of pianist Bob York and vocalis Phyllis. Wes Fung greeted people at the door. Emcee duties were performed by Todd Wong – me!
Special guest speakers included Dr. Jan Walls – former director of SFU's David Lam Centre for International Communication, James Wright – general director of Vancouver Opera, and Jim Wong-Chu – community leader, who is spearheading this movement to revitalize and recognize the Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant and it's culinary importance to Vancouver Chinatown and BC history.
Dr. Walls is renowned for his clapper tales – an ancient form of Chinese rhythmic poetry, similar to contemporary rapping. He was once invited by Yo Yo Ma to perform in Boston. Jan is always a favorite at Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner events.
Mr. Wright talked about how Vancouver Opera has built tremendous community outreach programs for their major productions such as Madama Butterfly and Nixon in China, as well as for Vancouver Opera Touring Ensembe's traveling productions of Naomi's Road.
A power point display about Vancouver Chinatown with quotes of people talking about Chinatown and Foo's Ho Ho was created and presented by Ewin, Fanna and Larry.
Karen Lee-Morlang performed songs by Gershwin and Jelly Roll Morton. I joined her for a short rendition of “As Time Goes By” as we lit sparklers on a cake for Sam's birthday anniversary.