Monthly Archives: January 2011

Georgia Straight writes up Gung Haggis Fat Choy

The chance to try haggis won tons, haggis siu mai, and other hybrid Scottish-Chinese creations comes but once a year….

The above is is a nice write up for this year's 2011 dinner.  Read the rest at
Last year, Carolyn Ali, food writer for the Georgia Straight came to the dinner in 2010.  Check out last year's write up in the Georgia Straight.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy is the ultimate fusion feast

By Carolyn Ali,

In 2008, film writer Craig Takeuchi did a marvelous play on words with the Gung Haggis Fat Choy name.  I dare you not to laugh while reading his article.

By Craig Takeuchi,

It's interactive Robbie Burns Day

Here are some great weblinks for Robbie Burns Day

Check out actor Andrew James Weir originally from Ayeshire
He “plays” Robbie Burns and reads poems

The Burns Birthplace Museum wasn't finished being built when I visited the site on Dec 4th, 2009.
but it's finished now, and the website is fantastic!

This is an interactive game that links issues of Burns' time and issue of today, with Burns words and poetry


Burns on the web

The links below contain a wealth of information of the life, work and heritage of Robert Burns.

2011 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner will be fantastic!

The buzz is building for
Gung Haggis Fat Choy
Robbie Burns
Chinese New Year Dinner

“Rap to the Haggis” – Video from 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner

January 30th, Sunday
Floata Seafood Restaurant
#400- 180 East Keefer St.
Vancouver Chinatown

For Tickets
Contact Firehall Arts Centre:
phone 604.689.0926

$65 for adults
$55 for students
$45 for children 13 & under
(prices included ticket service charge)

Our co-hosts will be:
Jenna Chow – CBC Radio reporter
Patrick Gallagher – actor
Tetsuro Shigamatsu – writer, comedian

Jocelyn Pettit CD release essexboy2424362 views

Highland Wedding Song Joe McDonald Vancouver
1 min1 Oct 2009

Performers will be:
Jocelyn Pettit & Band
Joe McDonald – singer
Jaime None – singer
Brad Cran – Vancouver Poet Laureate
Jeff Chiba Stearns – film maker
Aidan and Quinn Huang – Highland Dancers
Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums

Food will include:
deep-fried haggis won ton
traditional haggis served with Chinese vegetarian lettuce wrap
steamed wild sockeye salmon

Format will include:
Piping Parades through the audience
Address to the Haggis
lots of poetry
lots of food
cultural fusion twists everywhere

Interesting notes:
CNN is sending a reporter and camera
It's Vancouver's 125th Birthday on April 6 – also Tartan Day
Vancouver's first mayor was Malcolm Alexander Maclean. He was born in Tyree, Argyllshire
on Scotland’s west coast, in 1844. He arrived in Granville
in January of 1886, three months before it became Vancouver.

Here's a video from the 2009 dinner

8 min29 Jan 2009

Burns Ceremony at Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria

Victoria's Craigdarroch Castle celebrates Robert Burns with a haggis ceremony each year in splendid form

2011_January_Craigdarroch_Castle 001

Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria BC was built by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir, but unfortunately he died before it was completed.  During his lifetime, Dunsmuir became one of the richest men in North America, as well as premier of BC.  His son James also became premier.  While many cite them for using Chinese miners in their coal mines as strike breakers – it was also the Dunsmuirs who argued against higher Chinese head taxes, and the Exclusion Act – if only so they could have cheap labour.

2011_January_Craigdarroch_Castle 011
“His knife see rustic Labour dight, an' cut ye up wi' ready sleight
Trenching your gushing entrails bright”

2011_January_Craigdarroch_Castle 016
Ye Pow'rs, wha make mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o'fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer
Gie her a haggis!

2011_January_Craigdarroch_Castle 013

All photos by Deb Martin
See more here on my flickr site

Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver Library – Dinners and Poetry Night

It's been a busy busy weekend

I was in Victoria for a board meeting for The Land Conservancy of BC.  So we decided to have a mini-Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner that was intimate with 12 dinners…. Just like the 16 friends I entertained in a private townhome back in 1998 at the first Gung Haggis Dinner.

We went to Nanaimo for the inaugural Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pow Wow Dinner, to be co-hosted with Shelagh Rogers.  We served over 30 people for another smallish intimate dinner, mixing together First Nations, Scottish and Chinese culture and cuisine.  It was a private event, as it was also Shelagh's birthday.

Tonight, I am at the Vancouver Public Library.  It is Gung Haggis World Poetry Night to be co-hosted with Ariadne Sawyer and Alexandro Mojica-Olea.  

tonight January 24th, 2011, Monday
@ Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch.
Alma Van Dusen Room.
Free Event

featuring ACWW/Ricepaper selected poets:
Ray Hsu,
Stephanie Chou,
Cara Kauhane,
+ co-host Todd Wong
+ Steve Duncan, Michael Morris,
James Mullen
+ muscian Joe McDonald

Update on “No Burns Day at SFU”

The story of “No Burns Day at SFU” has begun making the media rounds.

1130 News ran an interview with me on Monday morning in Vancouver.  I did the interview on Sunday morning from Victoria, where we had just finished a wee small Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner in Victoria Chinatown for friends.  I spoke about the importance of Scottish pioneer history in BC.  I spoke about how my participation in the Burns Ceremony at SFU back in 1993, helped me to first explore the Scottish aspects of Canadian multiculturalism. 

My friend Bob Sung sent me this message: Heard you on the radio this morning about Nanaimo….very eloquent…good tone!

But unfortunately, somebody called my haggis maker, Peter Black & Sons, and gave them the mistaken belief that it was the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner that was canceled, instead of saying that the SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival organized by the SFU Recreation and Athletics Department was canceled.–no-robbie-burns-day-at-sfu

The Vancouver Province Newspaper also phoned me today, asking about both the SFU No Burns Day issue, and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner that will take place on Sunday January 30th.

I did tell the reporter that when the Robbie Burns statue was erected in Stanley Park, thousands of people came to see the unveiling in a parade, marching to the entrance of Stanley Park, as it sits across from the Vancouver Rowing Centre in Stanley Park.  At that time in Vancouver's history, the Scots were the largest ethnic group in Vancouver.

I do hope that SFU will re-instate the Burns Ceremonies at the Burnaby Mountain campus, as well as its' Surrey and Downtown Vancouver campuses.  Not having a Burns haggis ceremony at SFU, is like Vancouver Chinatown not having a Chinese New Year parade.

No Burns Day celebrations at Simon Fraser University… a sad day indeed!

No Robbie Burns Day to celebrate Scottish culture at SFU.

In 2010, Burnaby Mayor Derick Corrigan eats a handful of haggis, under the watchful eye of then SFU President Michael Stevenson, SFU Pipe Band members and SFU mascot McFogg the Dog. – photo T.Wong

There are no Robbie Burns ceremonies at Simon Fraser University this year.  No SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival either. Both the Ceremonies Department and SFU Recreation and Athletics cite budgetary restrictions.  Are the universities so tight for cash that there are no pennies left in SFU's sporran?  How much is it for a haggis and a bagpiper? 

(note: I phoned the office of SFU President Andrew Petter, and was informed that the budget cuts happened before Petter took office in the Summer – so the plot thickens… SFU has known that the Burns ceremonies was canceled since at least September… and still nobody did anything?).

The only Burns celebration will be the annual Robbie Burns Day Supper hosted and organized by the SFU Pipe Band – which is independent of the university.  SFU provides practice space in exchange for use of the name.  I even checked the SFU calendar – While the SFU Pipe Band is listed on the events page, there is no listing for Burns Day ceremonies or the SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival.  Sadly, January 25th is blank… empty… nothing…

This is a strange departure for a university that adopted Scottish
culture in its motto “Je Suis Prets,” taken from the Fraser Clan motto and
coat of arms.  Even the University's colours match the blue and red
from the Fraser Hunting tartan.  And why call your sports team “The
” unless you are modeling yourself on Scottish culture?  Simon
Fraser University also offers a Centre for Scottish Studies program that
has been doing great community outreach in Vancouver area with Director
Dr. Leith Davis.

In recent years, SFU has celebrated Burns Dinner, by having the three city mayors of Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, who also happened to have Scottish ancestry, attend Burns ceremonies at the three cities where SFU campuses are located.   The Burns ceremonies have grown more elaborate over the years.  When I helped out in 1993, the ceremony was simple.  The bagpiper led, I followed holding the sword upright, and the haggis carrier followed, and we delivered the haggis to the main cafeteria, where somebody must have given the Address To a Haggis.
But in 2009, SFU helped to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Scottish poet Robbie Burns by having piping and Scottish dancing at each of the campuses in Surrey, Burnaby and Vancouver.   And at the Burnaby campus there was even the debut of the first ever “Dressed to Kilt” fashion
show at the Highland Pub.

Hmmm…. I think that SFU not celebrating Robbie Burns Day, would be like NOT having a Chinese New Year parade in Vancouver Chinatown, or no St. Patrick's Day Parade in Vancouver for March 17th!   But wait… The occurrence of the 2010 Winter Olympics opening on the same weekend as Chinese New Year almost necessitated the cancellation of the Chinese New Year Parade last year, but was saved as the parade was opened earlier in time to clear the streets before an afternoon hockey game.  Sadly, the entire week of Celtic Fest activities was canceled in March due to venues being booked for Olympics and Paralympic events.  But Simon Fraser University doesn't have to compete with the Winter Olympics, they are only citing budgetary constrictions.  How expensive can a single haggis be?

I first became involved with the strange customs of Scottish-Canadians when I was asked in 1993 to help with the Burns Day ceremony.  I was a student tour guide, and we were paid to give tours to visitors.  But nobody wanted to carry a haggis, and wear a kilt.  Being loyal to my job, I hedged… “I'll do it if you can't find anybody else,” I said to our team leader, being very mindful of all the deep snow around campus that cold week in January.

They called back, and the rest is the stuff of legends.  “Toddish McWong” made his media debut in both the Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province, for being multicultural open to embracing a Scottish tradition, which in 1993, was 2 days away from Chinese New Year. 

“Gung Haggis Fat Choy” was coined as a word, and would follow me for the next few years, even after I graduated from SFU, and never even tasted the haggis that day on the mountain.

Years later I would invite friends to the first Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.  We had 16 people in the living room of a private townhouse in North Vancouver.  Our host Gloria hired a bagpiper, from the SFU Pipe Band.  I cooked most of the Chinese dishes.  We served the haggis with sweet & sour sauce, and with plum sauce.

2009_Scotland_ThisIsWhoWeAre 098

“Toddish McWong” at the Scottish Parliament exhibition of “This Is Who We Are: Scots in Canada.

Over the years, I have come to celebrate both the Scottish and Chinese
pioneer history and culture at Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinners.  So many of
the place names of BC are named after Scottish places, such as
Craigellachie – the site of the last spike of the Canadian Pacific
Railway.  In fact for 2009 Homecoming Year Scotland, Harry McGrath, the
former director of the Scottish Studies Program of SFU, created the
project: This Is Who We Are: Scots in Canada.  The photo project matched
pictures of similar named places in Scotland and Canada, such as Banff,
New Glasgow, and many others.  I was honoured to be part of their
project, and I attended the closing night reception at Scottish
Parliament, where I encountered a life-size picture of myself.

In 2004, I received a phone call from SFU Recreation Department, asking if I could help them create an event that could bring together the University's Scottish heritage and traditions with the large Asian population of students.  In January 2005, we unveiled the SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy “Canadian Games”.  

 click for more photos

Sadly there are no dragon cart races for SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival this year.  But last year, McFogg the Dog and Toddish McWong posed with the winning team in 2010 – The Wellness Warriors.

created dragon cart races – imagine dragon boats “paddling” across SFU's convocation mall.  Imagine trying to have the world's largest “Haggis eat-in.”  It was a big hit.  Okay, not the haggis bit… but many students tried haggis and said they liked it.

For the past few years, I have been the race commentator for the dragon cart races.  It is always fun to watch people having multicultural fun, and playing with the cultural stereotypes.

But sadly…. not for this year at Simon Fraser University. 

This is the year that Maclean's Magazine also published an article in it's annual university issue, titled “Too Asian?”   It has generated a lot of co
ntroversy as Asian-Canadians and cultural analysts have criticized the article for pandering to stereotypes and faulty journalism.   “Maybe SFU is NOT Scottish Enough now?”  A list of critiques can be found on

Gung Haggis World Poetry Night January 24th at Vancouver Public Library

Gung Haggis World Poetry

returns to Vancouver Library Square

You are invited to the exciting World Poetry evening,
Gung Haggis Fat Choy, at the Vancouver Public Library.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Poster Click to view/print the poster…

Hosts: Todd Wong, Ariadne Sawyer and Alejandro Mujica-Olea

Special guests:

Steve Duncan- host of Co-Op Radio Wax Poetic

Stephanie Chou

Dr. Ray Hsu – author of Anthropy, Cold Sleep Permanent Afternoon

Cara Kauhane

Joe McDonald – bagpiper

Michael Morris

James Mullen

A special blend of contemporary Scottish-Canadian and Chinese-Canadian poets,
mixed with ancient Scottish and Chinese traditions
of Robbie Burns Day and Chinese New Year.

Expect bagpipes, a Chinese dragon, and verbal fireworks!

For origins of Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year celebrations – click here

Gung Haggis Vancouver dinner joined by new dinners in Victoria and Nanaimo

Toddish McWong's Gung Haggis Fat Choy
Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinners
come to Victoria and Nanaimo!

I have long wanted to do a Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner in Victoria and Nanaimo.  These are both significant cities in BC history for Scottish and Chinese pioneers.

Victoria Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner – January 22nd, Golden City Restaurant
Nanaimo Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner – January 23rd, Iron Wok Restaurant
Seating is limited, and by invitation only.

I want to create small intimate dinners that were like the first restaurant Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner of 40 people, which followed the initial dinner of 16 people in a living room.  At the very first dinner, I invited friends – many of whom had Chinese or Scottish ancestry.  Each guest was asked to bring a song or a poem from Chinese or Scottish culture, or help present a Robbie Burns Supper tradition.  I cooked most of the Chinese dishes that were served.  I made a lemon grass winter melon soup, stir-fried snow peas with scallops, steamed salmon with garlic and hot oil, sticky rice.  Fiona brought the haggis.  Rod picked up the lettuce wrap from Chinese take out.  Gina made a noodle dish. 

And in between each dinner course, we read a poem or sang a song.  I read Recipe for Tea, from the Chinese-Canadian anthology “Swallowing Clouds,” written by my friend Jim Wong-Chu, which described how tea first came to the UK from China via Scottish traders.”  Gloria read the Burns poem “To A Mouse”.  Her friend gave a Toast to the Laddies.  Gloria even hired a bagpiper!  It was a wonderful evening…  the first Burns Supper I ever attended.  And I only learned about the elements of a Burns Supper, by going to the Vancouver Library where I worked, and asking for details at the reference desk.


Rev. Chan Yu Tan is 4th from the left, standing beside his elder brother Rev. Chan Sing Kai, at the 50th Anniversary of the Chinese United Church in Victoria.

Victoria was the first port of entry for all the Chinese immigrants coming across the Pacific Ocean by boat.  It once was one of the largest Chinatowns in North America, and the oldest in Canada.  My great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan arrived in Victoria in 1896, following his elder brother Rev. Chan Sing Kai, who came in 1891 to help found the Chinese Methodist Church, which later became the Chinese United Church. This has now been told in the CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy.

Meanwhile, on my paternal grandfather, Wong Wah, also came to Victoria, as a sixteen year old in 1882.  He worked in a Chinese dry goods store for his uncle, and later managed the store as it became one of Victoria's largest Chinese merchant stores.

Scottish influence is found throughout Victoria.  It is as easy as the street names of Caledonia, Balmoral and Craigflower.  The first governor of British Columbia James Douglas was schooled in Scotland, due to his Scottish father's influence, even though his mother was a creole free black.  It was Robert Dunsmuir, born in Hurlford Scotland near the town of Kilmarnock, that became one of the richest men in North America by being a coal baron.  Dunsmuir served as premier of BC, as did his son. Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, was built by Dunsmuir as a gift to his wife, but he died a year before it was completed.

Rev. Chan Yu Tan also ministered at the Chinese United Church in Nanaimo. From there, he would often travel to the mining town of Cumberland to also minister to the Chinese labourers there.  It was coal baron Robert Dunsmuir that owned the coal mines around Cumberland and Nanaimo.  During a general strike at the mines, Dunsmuir used Chinese labourers as strike breakers.  Although it is now little more than a ghost town of a few remaining buildings, Cumberland was once one of Canada's largest Chinatowns – so big that it could sustain two Chinese opera houses.  Author Paul Yee's new play Jade in Coal was set in Cumberland.

I am looking forward to creating inaugural Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinners
in both Victoria and Nanaimo, as I have so much family history in both cities.  The Victoria dinner will follow the board meeting for The
Land Conservancy of BC
.  TLC executive director Bill Turner has attended
many Gung Haggis dinners in Vancouver, and our TLC Board Chair Alistair Craighead was born near Glasgow Scotland.  Vice-Chair Briony Penn worked for the National Trust of Scotland many years ago, and helped create “Tam O'Shanter Experience” that was featured at the Robert Burns National Heritage Park, that has now built the Robert Burns National Birthplace Museum to replace the “Tam O'Shanter Experience.”

The Nanaimo dinner will be a joint-venture with my friend Shelagh Rogers, CBC broadcaster, who now hosts The Next Chapter on CBC radio.  Shelagh has been organizing Reconciliation dinners between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people.  Awhile back, she asked me about creating something similar to a Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner, which she co-hosted with me in 2005.  I said, “How about a Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pow Wow Dinner” that could embrace all three pioneer cultures?  And that is exactly what we will have on January 23rd.  We are inviting friends with Chinese, Scottish and First Nations ancestry and culture and having a dinner.  We shall see what people bring to the table in songs and poetry that will reflect our desire for cultural harmony and fusion, as well as reverence for our shared but distinctive past.

See pictures and story from Nanaimo Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pow Wow Dinner


A picture of Toddish McWong included in 150 of BC's historical and contemporary figures invited to “The Party” installation to help celebrated 150 years of BC History at the Royal BC Museum in 2008.

Chinese-Irish-Canadian Patrick Gallagher to co-host @ Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner

2011 Gung Haggis Dinner co-host Patrick Gallagher likes to call himself “Chirish.”
His father gave him Irish ancestry and his mother bestowed her Chinese ancestry.  He is a perfect co-host for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner, along with fellow co-hosts Tetsuro Shigematsu, CBC Radio reporter Jenna Chow and founder Toddish McWong.
Peter's sister Margaret Gallagher has both co-hosted and performed at past Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners.  At those events, Margaret would help us lead the singalong “When Asian Eyes Are Smiling,” then we would sing a round of “When Chirish Eyes Are Smiling” – just for Margaret.

220px Patrick Gallagher True Bloods Chow, Patrick Gallagher supports At Risk Youth Here is a picture of Peter Gallagher participating in a public
service announcement to help promote awareness for the needs of at-risk
youth.  Here’s more about it on the Trueblood website:

You've seen Patrick Gallagher on tv as Coach
Tanaka in Glee, and as Det. Joe Finn in Da Vinci's Inquest, also as
Atilla the Hun in Night at the Museum, Gary the bartender in Sideways
and as Awkward Davies in Master and Commander.  No longer on Glee, he has appeared on Trueblood as the vampire bartender named Chow.  He has also been recently seen on Hawaii 5-0 and Battlestar Gallactica.
  Patrick is now a regular on the new Canadian show Endgame, on Showcase this spring, and also has a recurring role on Men of a Certain Age.

I've known Patrick for many years, we would bump into each other at theatre events and around town.  Patrick was a comedic great in the Marty Chan play, “Mom, Dad, I'm Living With a White Girl.”  He also performed in the touring production of Naomi's Road, a theatrical presentation of Joy Kogawa's children's novel, based on her Obasan.  A few years ago, I going for lunch on Robson with Joy Kogawa, and we bumped into Patrick.  While he had performed in Naomi's Road, he had never met the author.  I was pleased to be able to make the introductions.  And so… it is very very fitting that Patrick Gallagher is now a co-host for Gung Haggis Fat Choy, as we help to raise funds for Historic Joy Kogawa House, as well as Ricepaper Magazine and the Gung Haggis dragon boat team.

Patrick Gallagher as Coach Tanaka
And…. even though Coach Ken Tanaka didn't get a singing spot on Glee, I think we can offer Patrick a singing feature at our Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner… as well as a kilt to go along with his fanny pack – which is really just a multi-purpose sporran! 
What do you think? Utili-kilt for Patrick?

Patrick Gallagher on Urban Rush, Nov. 2, 2010
9 mi