Category Archives: 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner

2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner brings a bit of Scotland back for everybody!

“Bringing back a bit of Scotland for everyone” was how Toddish McWong described the 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

Throughout the evening, Todd Wong, creator of Gung Haggis Fat Choy, shared stories of his recent trip to Scotland.  He had gone to Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.for the finale weekend of Scotland Homecoming Year, and wrapped up a long year of Scottish celebrations that had started with the 250th Anniversary of the poet Robbie Burns and finished with a closing reception at Scottish Parliament where a life-size picture of him had been included in the photo exhibit This Is Who We Are: Scots in Canada.  By the end of the evening, Bill Saunders, giver of the Immortal Memory, had received a bow tie in Burns Check brought all the way from Burns Cottage in Alloway, and almost every guest walked home with a lovely Burns 2010 calendar courtesy of Visit Scotland, which had been shipped from Edinburgh specifically for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner.

DSC_5209_142727 - GHFC Pipe & Drum Band practising by FlungingPictures

The evening started off soon after 6pm, with a piping in of the head table and performers by the Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums, led by pipe major Bob Wilkins.  All the guests rose to greet the procession, as host Toddish McWong, introduced the band and the performers to the audience.

DSC_5235_142753 - GHFC Pipe & Drums Band by FlungingPictures

DSC_5233_142751 - GHFC Pipe & Drums Band by FlungingPictures

The pipers and the performers stood at the front of the stage. It was an amazing array of colours and costumes as wollen tartan kilts and chinese embroided silk clashed and complimented each other.  

Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2010 by Tiny Bites

Co-host Tricia Collins dressed in a Saltire blue Chinese silk top and wore our Fraser
Hunting Tartan mini-kilt from the Gung Haggis dragon boat team. She shared with the audience how her own Irish-Chinese ancestry came to Canada via Guyana (British Honduras), similar to the first governor of Canada, James Douglas, whom she is writing about for her next project.. 

DSC_5262_142780 - Todd, Joy KOGAWA & Tricia by FlungingPictures

Joy Kogawa read the “Selkirk Address” to bless our food and dinner.  In 2006, Joy was our featured author and she read a new work then.  The Historic Joy Kogawa House Society is one of the non-profit organizations that receives monies raised by the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.

DSC_5343_142860 - cutting the haggis by FlungingPictures

Joe McDonald performs “The Rap to the Haggis” as he “cut ye up wi' ready slight.”  Co-host Tricia Collins looks on, as she witnesses this strange ritual for the first time.

DSC_5336_142853 - Addressing the haggis by FlungingPictures

Wong leads a chorus of “Gie her a Haggis” and “Gie Vancouver a Haggis”, as she rouses the finale to this rowdy and interactive version of the sacred Burns poem.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2010 by Tiny Bites

5 “men” were selected to recite the Burns poem “A Man's a Man For All That” included “The Bearded Lady”.  Left to right included a Judge, Parks Commissioner/teacher Stuart Mackinnon, Kilt afficianado and dragon boater Raphael Fang, The Bearded Lady, and a kilted friend from Richmond.  All stout men who gave good readings of the verse, finalizing with Mackinnon singing the last verse.

Throughout the evening, Wong and McDonald led singalongs of “When Asian/Scottish/Chirish Eyes Are Smiling” and “Loch Lomand.”  These singalongs encouraged audience participation and took a warm surprise turn when McDonald had men only singing “Ye take the High Road” chorus of Loch Lomand, immediately followed by an outstanding version of the Women only singers.!  The women were clear winners!

Special poet of the evening was Larissa Lai, who read from her new book of poetry Automaton Biographies.  Each year the Gung Haggis dinner features a different poet.  Larissa also briefly explained how she teaches Burns at University of BC, in her role as an Assistant Professor in the English Department.

Special theatrical performance was done by playwright/actor Marcus Youssef accompanied by writer/comedian Charles Demers.  They did a stage reading of Youssef's critically acclaimed play Ali & Ali and the Axis of Evil.  The segment poked fun at Multiculturalism and Scottish history and culture, to great effect.

Birds of Paradox is a musical instrumental trio, featuring Lan Tung (erhu), Ron Samworth (electric guitar) and Nealamjit Dhillon.  Their playing was sublime and took turns highlighting each performer.  It was exciting to see the erhu played with soaring passages, trading phrases with the picking and fretwork of the guitar, all accompanied by the polyrhythms of the tabala drums.  Of note, Dhillon had first performed with Joe McDonald at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners in 2001 and 2002 as the musical duo Brave Waves.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2010 by Tiny Bites

Highland Dancing was the surprise hit of the evening performed by Aidan and Alex Huang from Kelowna, sons of drummer Dan Huang.  They are only 6 and 9 years old, but they showed poise and control as the young boys are experienced competitors in Highland Dance competitions.  The boys certainly enjoy their Chinese and Scottish heritage.

Bringing the evening to a more serious tone, Bill Saunders, president of the Vancouver & District Labour Council, gave the Immortal Memory.  He recounted Burns life, from a “ploughman's poet” to the “toast of Scottish high society” in Edinburgh.  He described the values and beliefs of the poet, then went on to postulate what Rabbie would be like today as a poet.  Saunders painted a portrait of a young community activist, fighting for social justice and gender equity, wearing a hoody, criticizing the elite, and protesting against the economic and social conditions that promote and cause homelessness.

Raffle tickets were drawn and the top prizes were quickly given out: Vancouver Opera tickets to Nixon in China, The Monkey King, upcoming productions from Firehall Arts Centre, Neworld Theatre and UBC Opera.  Arsenal Pulp Press and Harbour Publishing had donated books such as Larissal Lai's first novel “When Fox is a Thousand” and Charles Demers' “Vancouver Special” as well as Fiona Tin Wei Lam's “Enter the Chrysanthemum.”

The Gung Haggis Pipes and Drums, performed again, first weaving their way through the audience, easily filling the large restaurant space with the skirl of the pipes and the beats of the drums.  They winded their way to the stage, and performed 3 numbers.  Todd and Tricia thanked the volunteers, production coordinators and the audience before leading a singalong of Auld Lang Syne with the first verse in Mandarin Chinese.

The evening ended with lots of smiles and compliments.  Here are some of the comments:

“Thanks, Todd for another fantastic Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner. ” – Joan Young of Historic Joy Kogawa House Society

“Awesome night, Todd!! Great job. ” – Desmond Rodenbour

“Gung Haggis Fat Choy was just as Amazing as I had always dreamed. You should be very proud of what you've done.” – Lorraine Murphy

“I just wanted to say thanks for your efforts and creativity in bringing
about the Gung Haggis Fat Choy event. I attended tonight for the first
time, along with a mix of Scottish and Chinese friends and we all
enjoyed ourselves and our table-mates.” – Paul

2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner a big success – thank you to our performers, support crew and volunteers… and our audience!!!

for attending
Gung Haggis Fat Choy

44 tables were filled for almost 440 guests at the 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

Our performers put on a great show, and people were on their feet for the Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums.

Special thanks to co-host Tricia Collins, poet Larissa Lai, musicians Joe McDonald, Birds of Paradox (Lan Tung, Ron Samworth and Nealamjit Dhillon), playwight Marcus Youssef, author/performer Charles Demers, The Bearded Lady (Naomi Singer), Immortal Address given by Bill Saunders.

Making it happen were stage manager Charlie Cho, sound engineer Carl Schmidt, seating and volunteer coordinators Debbie Poon and Dave Samis, Ricepaper editor Patricia Lim, our wonderful volunteers from Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team and Ricepaper Magazine.

More thanks to our prize sponsors… Vancouver Opera, Arsenal Pulp Press, Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts (Four Brothers Entertainment), Firehall Arts Centre, Newworld Theatre, Harbour Publishing + more…

Pictures are being posted up soon…. I will write a review tonight.

Gung Haggis Dinner is Sold Out!

Gung Haggis Fat Choy
Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner!

Sorry but there are no more tickets available for Gung Haggis Fat Choy
The Firehall Box Office closed off on tickets sales for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner on Friday Night.
We did take late reservations by phone on Saturday.

For 2010, we redesigned the dinner for only 400 guests – instead of 500+ last year.
The Firehall Arts Centre printed out 345 tickets for our guests + we have performers and volunteers – so we have reached our goal of 400 people.  We hope to have a more intimate dinner party for our 400 best friends for the evening!

But you are unsure of your ticket reservation
– please call me – Todd Wong ASAP
Call 778-846-7090,

Because the nature of the dinner is a 10 course sit down banquet – Advanced reservations is always the best.  We have to have many of our culinary specialties prepared ahead of time. 
We don't like to have to turn away people at the door – but we have to if there is nothing to serve them.

What to expect at the 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner

What to expect at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2010 Dinner

DSC_3644_103213 - view from middle of the hall by FlungingPictures. picture by Patrick Tam

The Arrival

Arrive Early: 

The doors will open at 5:00 pm, All tables are reserved, and all seating is placed in the
order that they were ordered.

If you bought your tickets through Firehall Arts Centre, come to the reception marked Will Call under the corresponding alphabet letters.

have placed you at tables in order of your purchase.  Somebody who
bought their ticket in December will be at a table closer to the stage
then somebody who bought it on the day before the event.  We think this
is fair.  If you want to sit close for next year – buy your ticket

The Bar is open at 5:00 and Dinner Start time is 6:00

We expect a rush before the posted 6:00pm
time. We have asked that the 1st appetizer platter be placed on the table soon after 6pm.  Once this is done, we will start the Piping in of our performers and head table.  We sing O Canada from the stage, and give welcome to our guests.  Warning: We usually ask you to sing for your supper.

Buy Your Raffle Tickets:

Please buy
raffle tickets… this is how we generate our fundraising.  We
purposely keep our admission costs low to $60 for so that they are affordable and the dinner can be attended by more
people.  Children's tickets are subsidized so that we can include
them in the audience and be an inclusive family for the evening.
We have some great door
and raffle prizes lined up.  Lots of books (being the writers we
are), gift certificates and theatre tickets + other surprises.

FREE Subscription for Ricepaper Magazine:

Everybody is eligible for a subscription to RicePaper Magazine,
(except children). This is our thank you gift to you for attending our
dinner. And to add value ($20) to your ticket. Pretty good deal, eh?
Rice Paper Magazine
is Canada's best journal about Asian Canadian arts and
culture, published by
Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop,

This dinner is the primary fundraising event for:

The Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dragon Boat team continues to promote multiculturalism through
dragon boat paddling events. Some paddlers wear kilts, and we have been filmed for German, French, and Canadian television documentaries + other

Since 2001, Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop, has been a partner in this remarkable dinner event. ACWW works actively to give a voice to ermerging writers.  ACWW is the publisher of RicePaper Magazine.

Histoic Joy Kogawa House committee joined our family of recipients in 2006, during the campaign to save Joy Kogawa's childhood home from demolition.  The Land
Conservancy of BC
stepped in to fundraise in 2005 and purchase Kogawa House
in 2006 and turn it into a National literary landmark and treasure for all
Canadians. In 2009, we celebrated our inaugural Writer-in-Residence program.


This year haggis dim sum appetizers will
be served. Haggis is mixed into the Pork  Siu-mei dumplings  Last year we introduced haggis pork dumplings
(su-mei). This year we are adding vegetarian pan-fried turnip cake to represent “Neeps and Tatties.”  The secon

after 6:00 pm the dinner formalities begin. People
are seated, and the Piping in of the musicians and
hosts begins.  We will lead a singalong of Scotland the Brave and give
a good welcome to our guests, and have the calling of the clans – all
the reserved tables and large parties of 10.  This is a tradition at
many Scottish ceilidhs (kay-lees), or gatherings.

From then on… a new dish will appear every 15 minutes –
quickly followed by one of our co-hosts introducing a poet or musical
performer.  Serving 40 tables within 5 minutes, might not work
completely, so please be patient.  We will encourage our guests
and especially the waiters to be quiet while the performers are on stage.
Then for the 5 minute intermissions, everybody can talk and make noise
before they have to be quiet for the performers again.

Check this video from last year's Dinner

07:59 – 

The Performances

Expect the unexpected:  This year's dinner event is full of surprises. Even I don't know what is going to happen.  The idea is to recreate the spontaneity of the very
first dinner for 16 people back in 1998 – but with 400 guests.  For
that dinner, each guest was asked to bring a song or a poem to share.  I
don't want to give anything away right now as I
prefer the evening to unfold with a sense of surprise and
wonderment.  But let it be known that we have an incredible
array of talent for the evening. 

Todd Wong and Tricia Collins will be the hosts for the

Todd Wong is the creator of Gung Haggis Fat Choy. A 5th Generation Chinese Canadian who played Robbie Burns in the Battle of the Bards for 2008 Celtic Fest.

Tricia Collins is a actor, writer and playwright.  Recently, her one woman play Gravity performed to rave reviews in Vancouver, Montreal and Guyana – home of her ancestors.  Tricia happily brings her Irish-Chinese-Guyanese-Canadian heritage to Gung Haggis Fat Choy! 

We always delight in having Joe and his bagpipes. Joe has been with us since 2001 and even performed in the 2004 Gung Haggis Fat Choy CBC tv special.  Joe is a multi-instrumentalist and can perform Chinese tunes on his bamboo flute or his bagpipes.

Birds of Paradox is the new group by erhu virtuoso Lan Tung, Ron Samworth on guitar and Nealamjit Dhillon on tabla drums and saxophone.  Lan is also the leader of the group Orchid Ensemble.

Larissa Lai is our featured author, author of her new poetry work Automaton Biographies, Her novels are When Fox is A Thousand and Salt Fish Girl. Larissa also teaches Burns' work at UBC English Department.

Marcus Youssef and Camyar Chai are the authors of Ali & Ali and the Axis of Evil.  This has become a favorite for many Vancouverites, as the play pokes fun at Asian Heritage Month, Multiculturalism and Scottish history.  Charles Demers performs with them

by Robbie Burns and Chinese Canadian poets.  What will it be?  We often
like to read “Recipe for Tea” – a poem by Jim Wong-Chu, about the
trading of tea from Southern China to Scotland

Our non-traditional reading of the “Address to the
Haggis” is always a crowd pleaser.  But
this year, audience members might also be reading a different Burns poem to
tie their tongues around the gaelic tinged words.  Will it be “A
Man's A Man for All That,” “To a Mouse,”
My Luv is Like a Red Red Rose,” or maybe even “Tam O-Shanter?”

The evening will wrap up somewhere
between 9:00 and
9:30 pm, with the singing of Auld Lang Syne – with a verse in Mandarin
Chinese. Then we will socialize further until 10pm.  People will
leave with smiles on their faces and say to
each other, “Very Canadian,”  “Only in Vancouver could something
like this happen,” or “I'm telling my friends.”

Robbie Burns was born in the year of the Tiger.

Robbie Burns Was a Tiger…
what about you?
2010 welcomes the Year of the Tiger
on February 14th.

2009_Scotland_2 052

Zig Zag: The Paths of Burns exhibit, Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow

In 1759, a wee bairn of a boy named Robert was born in a cottage in the village of Alloway, in Ayrshire Scotlandm, on January 25th in the last days of the Chinese Lunar Year of the Tiger.  Four days later on January 29th, Chinese New Year of the Rabbit occurred.

250 years later, Scotland celebrated the year of 2009 as the Year of
Scotland Homecoming, from the 250th Anniversary of Burns' birth on
January 25th, to November 30th St. Andrew's Day.

2009_Scotland_1 036 by you. Kelvingrove Museum, Glasglow

Something special about Robert Burns and his poetry have endeared him to the people of Scotland and around the world.  He is said to be one of the most translated poets into almost every language around the world.  At the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, we sing the first verse of Auld Lang Syne in Mandarin Chinese.

Do you think the Year of the Tiger qualities fit Robert Burns?

Year of the Tiger qualities

The Tiger is said
to be lucky vivid, lively and engaging. Another attribute of the Tiger
is his incredible bravery, evidenced in his willingness to engage in battle
or his undying courage. Maybe he’s so brave because he is so lucky.

Tigers do not find
worth in power or money. They will be completely honest about how they
feel and expect the same of you. On the other hand, they seek approval
from peers and family. Generally, because of their charming personalities
Tigers are well liked. Often, failing at a given task or being unproductive
in his personal or professional life can cause a Tiger to experience a
depression. Criticism from loved ones can also generate this type of Tiger
reaction. Still, like all felines, Tigers always land on their feet, ready
for their next adventure

The Year of the Tiger seems to have been significant in the development of Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner events.

On May 11th, Todd Wong was born in 1960, the Year of the Rat. He is a descendant of Rev. Chan Yu Tan, who arrived in Canada in 1896 as a Methodist Lay Preacher.  Todd is from the fifth generation that his family has lived in Vancouver.

Generations Chan Legacy 127 Toddish McWong in 1993

The first time I wore a kilt was in 1993.  Chinese New Year was January 23rd, the Year of the Chicken.  Robbie Burns Day was January 25th. I was to wear a kilt and carry a claymore (Scottish sword) in the Simon Fraser University Burns Day ceremonies.  Realizing that the two most important days in Chinese and Scottish culture were only 2 days away from each other, I coined the phrase “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” and called myself “Toddish McWong.”  My picture appeared in the Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province… and even though I wouldn't wear a kilt or participate in a Burns ceremony again for years… friends would still tease me about wearing the kilt and call me “Toddish McWong.”

The next time Chinese New Year came close to January 25th was in 1998.  The Year of the Tiger began on January 28th.  This was the first Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner on Sunday January 25th.  It was held in the livingroom of a North Vancouver townhouse. My friend Gloria and I invited 14 of our friends to help create a multicultural mixing of Chinese and Scottish traditions… and everything in-between and beyond.  I had never before been to a Burns Supper before, and had to go to the Vancouver Public Library to look up directions.  I brought in poems from the 1998 anthology “Many Mouthed Birds” Contemporary writing by Chinese Canadians.  Even back then, the emphasis was on mult-culturalism and inter-culturalism, as we invited friends to play a song or read a poem.

Here are some of the words from that first invitation:

We are creating a celebration of Canadian culinary portions to celebrate the proximity of Robbie Burns Day (Jan 25) and Chinese New Year (Jan 28).  We ask you to help us share our unique perspective of multiculturalism with all Canadians, so that we all may better understand each other.

This Sunday, on January 25, we are creating a “Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner” for 20 invited friends.  Haggis will be bagpiped in at 6pm sharp and served with traditional “neets and taters.”[sic]  Accompanying the haggis will be an assortment of Chinese sauces such as black bean, sweet and sour & chinese plum sauce to help facilitate the palatability of this “offal” dish.

It is important for Canadians to know that we are more that “Two Solitudes.”  We are “multi-solitudes” and we must be proactive in our association and integration to avoid separation anxiety and solitary depression.  As former lieutenant governor David Lam said, “Multiculturalism is like a pot-luck dinner, everybody brings something – and if you can’t, you offer to wash the dishes.

2009 saw the closest occurrence of both Robbie Burns Day and Chinese New Year, as January 25th fell on Chinese New Year's Eve.  It was also the designated year of Homecoming Scotland, a global celebration to invite all Scots and Scottish descendants home to Scotland to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns.  Chinese New Year ended with the Year of the Rat and welcomed the Year of the Ox.  The Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner was one of several Burns Suppers around the world that received one of 250 specially made bottles of 37 year old Famous Grouse blended whisky.  250 for the anniversary of Burns.  37 for the age of Burns when he died.  These bottles were auctioned off for charity.  We chose to donate 50% of money raised to go to the Burns 250 project, of the Scottish National Trust, for which I discovered that they have a Chinese punch bowl that Robert Burns used at the wedding of his brother Gilbert.

Homecoming Year celebrations went on all through 2009.  In October, I received an invitation to Scottish Parliament for the Closing Reception of the  “This is Who We Are: Scots in Canada” exhibition.  I decided I had to go to Scotland.  On November 28th, I finally arrived at Glasgow Airport for my first trip to Scotland, after spending way too many hours in a plane from Vancouver on January 27th, and a 7 hour stopover in Amsterdam.  Exhibit curator Harry McGrath had told me that my picture was “featured rather prominently” – but he didn't tell me if was life-size!

2009_Scotland_ThisIsWhoWeAre 098 Toddish McWong in 2009

My visit was only one week, but I saw many Burns exhibits at the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgove and the Zig Zag: The Paths of Burns at the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow.  I traveled to Ayr and saw the same Robert Burns Statue that is in Vancouver's Stanley Park.  Further down the road, I visited Burns Cottage where Burns was born in the village of Alloway. Burns National Park contains the soon-to-be demolished “Tam O'Shanter Experience” which is being replaced by the Burns Birthplace Museum. A short walk past the Church is Brig O' Doon – the site of the bridge in Burns' famous poem Tam O'Shanter.

2009_Scotland6 116 Burns Cottage, Alloway Scotland

And now it is 12 years after that first “accidental” Gung Haggis Fat
Choy dinner.  The Year of the Tiger is again coming after Burns
Birthday.  But much later in 2010, on February 14th. For the City of Vancouver, this is also the Year of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games (Feb 12 – 28).  What is next for the Legacy of Robert Burns?  Well in 2010 Summer, the Robert Burns National Birthplace Museum will open… in the Year of the Tiger.

2009_Scotland6 132 by you.
Burns Birthplace Museum – opening Summer 2010.

2009_Scotland6 131 by you.
Here's a website for 1645-1899

Year of the Tiger

Program revealed for this Sunday's 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner

What's Happening this Sunday at Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner?

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinners always emphasize BC's cultural and historical past and present. While we acknowledge the Scottish and Chinese pioneers that helped to shape this province of British Columbia, we also look to see where we are going and what kind of cultural fusion is happening.  This year's program is amazing.

Larissa Lai is the featured author (When Fox is A Thousand, Salt Fish Girl + new poetry book Automaton
Biographies).  Larissa enjoyed last year's Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner when Rita Wong was the featured author.  Larissa teaches Burns poetry at the UBC English Department.

Lan Tung
is the featured musician with her trio Birds of Paradox, with guitarist Ron Samworth and multi-instrumentalist  NealamjitDhillon. Nealamjit has performed at Gung Haggis Fat Choy previously with Joe McDonald's band “Brave Waves.”
This will be Lan's first time at Gung Haggis Fat Choy, she is a
virtuoso on the erhu, and is well known with her group Orchid Ensemble

Marcus Youssef
is featured playwright and will perform excerpt from “Ali & Ali and
the Axis of Evil” which pokes fun at Asian Heritage Month,
Multiculturalism and Scottish history and culture.  Marcus is one of the founders of Neworld Theatre with Adrienne Wong and Camyar Chai.  Adrienne is a perennial favorite at Gung Haggis Fat Choy.  She has co-hosted and last year, she presented a preview excerpt from her Neworld theatre play “Mixie and the Half-breeds.”  In May 2009, Marcus and Adrienne co-produced and performed in a reading at the Vancouver Public Library for History Joy Kogawa House's inaugural Writer-in-Residence program with Montreal author John Asfour. This is Marcus's first visit to Gung Haggis Fat Choy, he will be joined by Camyar Chai and Charles Demers.

Tricia Collins,
is our Chinese-Irish-Guyanese-Canadian co-host. Her recent one-woman
play Gravity played to rave reviews in Vancouver, Montreal and Guyana.  Tricia has performed in many theatre plays, and recently her work was featured at the Whistler Film Festival in

Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums – including Dan Huang – Drum Sgt of the Kelowna Pipes & Drums.

Alex and Aidan Huang – Scottish-Chinese-Canadian Highland Dancers age 6 &

William Saunders, president of the Vancouver & District Labour Council, will give the Immortal Memory about our Ploughman's Poet

Joe McDonald, official bagpiper of Gung Haggis Fat Choy, will help lead some singalongs and special tunes

Todd Wong, creator of Gung Haggis Fat Choy, will read poems, lead singalongs and maybe play some accordion

Tix for “Monkey King” at Centre for Vancouver for Performing Arts
Tix for Vancouver Opera's “Nixon in China
Tix for Firehall Arts Centre “Where the Blood Mixes
Great Book Prizes:
Jim Wong-Chu – Swallowing Clouds
Larissa Lai – Automaton Biographies
Fiona Tinwei Lam –  Enter the Chrysanthemum
Charles Demers – Vancouver Special
Gu Xiong – The Yellow Pear
Ashok Mathur's A Little Distillery in Nowgong
+ Lots More

Larissa Lai is featured poet for 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner

Larissa Lai, author of When Fox is a Thousand and Salt Fish Girl – comes to Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner

Larissa Lai

Last year, Larissa Lai was a guest at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner.  She enjoyed the event so much she is coming back… as our featured poet!   At a reading event at the Vancouver Public Library, Larissa shared with me that she teaches Robert Burns to her students at University of BC.  Wow… Perfect! 

But Larissa is much more than that… She is an acclaimed poet in her own right, and the author of two novels – When Fox Is A Thousand, and Salt Fish Girl.  Both books are in my personal collection.  I first met Larissa back in 1994, when I wrote an article for the SFU Student Newspaper, and she was a featured poet for the Go For Broke Festival – the forerunner of Asian Heritage Month.

But I am sorry to share that we will NOT be serving Salted Fish at the 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner.  While my mother used to (and still does) cook salted fish at home… I have selected pan-fried spicy salted prawns (Jew-Yim-Hah) for the 2010 Menu… one of my favorite dishes.

2009_Oct_CUPE_writerfest 111

Larissa Lai is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at
The University of British Columbia. She holds a PhD from the University
of Calgary. Her first novel, When Fox Is a Thousand (Press Gang 1995)
was shortlisted for the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award. Her
second novel, Salt Fish Girl (Thomas Allen Publishers 2002) was
shortlisted for the Sunburst Award, the Tiptree Award and the City of
Calgary W. O. Mitchell Award. In 2004, West Coast Line published a
special issue focussed on her work. She has been the Markin-Flanagan
Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calgary (1997-8), and
Writer-in-Residence in the English Department at Simon Fraser
University (2006). sybil unrest, her collaborative long poem with Rita Wong, was published by Line Books in 2009. Eggs in the Basement, a long poem based on a vocabulary exhaustion exercise, surprised its writer by telling the story of Moses and Monotheism. It was published by Nomados, also in 2009. Lai’s first solo full-length poetry book, Automaton Biographies, has just been released by Arsenal Pulp Press.

Lan Tung erhu virtuoso is bringing her trio Birds of Paradox to Gung Haggis Fat Choy

Birds of Paradox brings cultural fusion music to Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner for 2010

STD photo 1649 small

Ron Samworth, Lan Tung and Nealamjit Dhillon make up the cultural fusion trio of Birds of Paradox – photo courtesy of Lan Tung

Lan Tung is a fantastic virtuoso erhu player who has recently toured across Europe and was just in Halifax with Symphony Nova Scotia for a January 7th concert of new music.

For the past few years I have been attending her concerts with Orchid Ensemble as they have explore Ghosts, Origami Paper Folding and Chinese-Canadian history and other special projects.  Lan came to Canada fom Taiwan in 1994, she incorporates Chinese music with contemporary
expression in her works. Her strong interest in music outside her
tradition has been a major drive in her artistic explorations, crossing
the lines between
contemporary, folk, blues, creative improvisation, and various ethnic
styles, such as Indian, Flamenco and Middle Eastern,
to expand the horizons of the erhu.

I am really excited that we can present Lan and her
collaborative trio
Birds of Paradox
featuring Ron Samworth and Neelamjit Dhillon in an exploration of composition and improvisation on the combination of electric guitar, erhu, voice, tabla, flutes and saxophone.

Lan is a dynamic force on the Canadian music scene, serving multiple roles as erhu
performer, composer, concert producer, and administrator. 
She has toured extensively in North America, working with
composers, musicians, dancers, visual and media artists of various
cultural backgrounds. She performs regularly in a number of ensembles: the JUNO nominated Orchid Ensemble ( performs Chinese and western contemporary music in a trio of erhu, zheng/Chinese zither, marimba and various percussion instruments.

Lan Tung

Artistic Director
Orchid Ensemble
Chinese Music and Beyond…

Vice President of
Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra


Trio – Ron Samworth, Lan Tung and Neelamjit Dhillon

Special Projects

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Here are some of the media interviews about Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner + other stories

Every year I do media interviews.  On Robbie Burns Day, I was woken up at 7am by a request from BBC Radio Scotland.  Yesterday, I did an interview for French CBC television.  Monday was Epoch Times.  Last week the Georgia Straight did a food feature article.  Somewhere in Scotland there is an interview in the Sunday Post.  Even SFU, Seattle and North Shore News have stories about Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner this year.  Check out the links:

Gung Haggis Fat Choy is the ultimate fusion feast – Carolyn Ali – ‎Jan 21, 2010‎
“People really like haggis dim sum,” says Todd Wong, otherwise known as Toddish McWong. He's organizing the 12th annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner,

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Celebrates Chinese and Scottish Heritage

The Epoch Times – Ryan Moffatt – ‎11 hours ago‎
At first glance not a lot, but if you ask Todd Wong, founder of Gung Haggis Fat Choy, the two partner together quite well. “In Canada they talk about the

Food Calendar

North Shore News – Pamela Stone, Debbie Caldwell – ‎4 hours ago‎
Gung Haggis Fat Choy:
The annual Scottish and Chinese cultural, musical and literary event
featuring intercultural food, fun, poems and music, Sunday, Jan.

Join the Burns Day fun Jan. 25

Simon Fraser University News – ‎Jan 21, 2010‎
And don't forget to stay for Gung Haggis Fat Choy, a fun meld of Chinese New Year and Burns Day festivities, with dragon cart races, haggis and egg rolls.

Like a trip home

The Kingston Whig-Standard – Ian Elliot – ‎Jan 25, 2010‎
and a unique Canadian twist is a Scottish- Chinese fusion born in Vancouver known as Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners that feature haggis wontons and other

Vancouver taste treat: haggis won ton

Crosscut (blog) – Knute Berger – ‎19 hours ago‎
The menu for the 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner in Vancouver has been revealed, and it combines the celebratory influences of Chinese New Year with the

Food and Culture Topic of Presentation

Opinion250 News (blog) – ‎Jan 9, 2010‎
We also attend boundary-blurring festivals, such as Gung Haggis Fat Choy Day,” says Dr. Iwama, who has a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Menu revealed for 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner to welcome Year of the Tiger

What is on the dinner menu for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner?

RL101 by you.
For 2009, I introduced deep-fried haggis wonton to Visit Scotland CEO Phillip Ridell. In return Phillip gave me one of only 250 bottles of 37 year old special edition Famous Grouse whisky that was auctioned off for charity.  A fair trade dontcha' think?  2009 was Homecoming Year Scotland which started with Robbie Burns' 250th Anniversary Birthday, and ended with St. Andrew's Day (November 30).  I was fortunate to be in Edinburgh for the Finale weekends, as my picture was featured in the This Is Who We Are: Scots in Canada exhibit at Scottish Parliament.

There are some changes for the dinner menu for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.  We try to vary the dinner items from year to year, add some new surprises, take out items we are bored with.  This is a draft menu – subject to change.
See if you can spot the new additions – not repeated from last year.

1. Floata Appetizer Platter
a. Haggis Pork dumpling (Shiu Mai)
b. turnip cake (Lo-bak-goh)
c. Honey BBQ Pork
d. Jelly Fish

2. Deep fried haggis won ton
3. Vegetarian Winter Melon Soup
4. Diced Vegetable with Lettuce Wrap served with traditional Haggis
5. Pan Fried Prawns with Spicy Salt (shell on)
6. Budda Feast with Deep Fried Tofu
7. Gold Coin Beef – Beijing capital style
8. Deep Fried Crispy Chicken
9. Diced Vegetable Fried Rice
10. Dessert: Mango or Coconut Pudding

10-course traditional Chinese Dinner featuring:

Cold platter (Fusion of Chinese and Scottish Appetizers – Won Ton;
Haggis Siu Mai; and Jelly fish – Vegetarian spring rolls or BBQ pork).

Dim Sum means “pieces of the heart” or “pieces that touch the heart.”  Absolutely delicious morsels of delicacy and succulence… and we stuff them with haggis!  It's either very good or very “offal.”  But people are always so hungry they eat it up without realizing they are having haggis.  This year, after experimenting with haggis shrimp dumpling (har-gow) we are limiting the haggis stuffing to the pork dumplings
Neeps and tatties” are a tradition serving at Burns dinners, so we are adding pan-fried turnip cakes – a staple at dim sum lunches… just like my great-grandma used to make.
Honey BBQ Pork – what more can you say? 
Now “jelly fish” –  a strange Chinese delicacy… rubbery… weird… textury… the perfect
compliment to haggis.  Photographers can try stuffing their haggis with
jelly fish, for a memorable portrait.

This year, the appetizer
platter will be served promptly at 6pm.  So we encourage every body to
arrive between 5 and 5:45pm, so they can order their drinks from the
bar, and browse the silent auction items.

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2) Deep-fried Haggis Won Ton (Shanghai style)
We are combining haggis and shrimp in this dish.  When I created the
first deep-fried haggis won-ton in 2003, it was a gift to welcome CBC
radio host Shelagh Rogers and her Sounds Like Canada crew to Vancouver.
The gift was all about food and family connections, which included:
Pan-fried Turnip cake (Lo-Bak-Goh) that my great-grandmother used to
make for me, Apple tarts like those my father would bring home from
Chinatown, and for our future generations we created the now legendary
deep-fried haggis wonton.

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3)   Vegetarian Hot & Sour soup or maybe Winter Melon soup.
We have served Hot & Sour soup every year at the Floata, so we thought we would try something different. 
At the very first legendary
private Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner for 16 friends, I cooked up a
Winter Melon soup with lemon grass.  It was wonderful! 
It's a good
hearty soup full of vegetables that I think Rabbie would enjoy.  Very
appropriate for Chinese New Year.
Fin soup is a traditional soup for wedding banquets, and was one of my favorite soups as a
youth, but due to its environmental impact of
Shark fishing – it is not an option. I now support the movement to ban
Shark Fin soup!  

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4)   Haggis ( piped in with Scottish bagpipes) served with Chinese Lettuce wrap with diced vegetables
are moving up the Haggis offering this year.  In past years, it was
menu item #6 or #7.  The piping in of the haggis is always an important
ceremony at any Burns Dinner.  But too much bagpiping can turn a lot
of heads in a Chinese restaurant.  It is also very important to read
the Burns poem
“Address to a Haggis”
prior to the serving of haggis.  So please…. do NOT cut into your
haggis, until after we have finished reading the poem.  Oh – by the
way… We don't usually do the usual traditional reading of the poem.

many ways can you serve haggis?  Take a spoonful of haggis, spread some
Chinese plum sauce on it, add some crunchy noodles and diced vegetables
with water chestnuts, and wrap it up in a delicate piece of lettuce.
Magnificient!  Imagine if Marco Polo should have brought back lettuce
wrap to Italy instead of noodles?  Or if you are vegetarian – leave out
the haggis.

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5)  Pan-fried spicy salted prawns (Jew-Yim-Hah). 
This is
one of my favorite dishes and is served shell on.  Past dinners have
found that while people liked the ginger crab, cracking the shell is
kind of challenging and messy.  With the spicy salted prawns, you can
just chew through the shell for more taste and roughage.  That's what I

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6)   Buddha feast
is an important traditional New Year dish – with long rice vermicelli
noodles and lots of
vegetables and lotus root.  All the good things that every vegetarian
loves.   Long noodles are important metaphor in Chinese cooking… The
longer the noodles, the longer the life you hope or expect to have.  The Chinese calendar is based on the 12 animals that came when
Buddha called.  The first animal to see Buddha was the Rat, I was born in the
Year of the Rat.
  The Tiger came third after the Ox.

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7)   Gold Coin Beef (Beijing Capital style)
an Olympic Year…. in Vancouver!  So Gold Coin Beef is perfect word symetry.  And the last Olympics were in Beijing, the capital of China. I've visited Beijing – it's a big city.  I was on a bicycle.  After pedaling to Beijing University, I felt I deserved a medal.  I also ran the Terry Fox Run in Beijing… 10km!  Terry Fox was definitely worthy of a Gold Medal

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8)   Crispy skinned chicken with shrimp chips
Another dish that was a childhood favorite.  Healthier than KFC.  And the shrimp chips were always my favorites as a child. 

9)   Vegetarian Young Chow Fried Rice or E-Fu noodles
is the dish you eat to fill yourself up, if you are still hungry.  We
had E-Fu long life noodles in 2008, but a lot of the Scottish people
thought that these traditional delicate noodles were too plain.  There
wasn't a strong sauce on them, and they weren't like chow mein
noodles… because they were E-Fu noodles!  Maybe it's an acquired
taste (like haggis).  For 2008, we went back to Young Chow Fried Rice. 
It's still a very special and tasty dish, that everybody likes!

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10)  Mango or Coconut pudding
has been our most popular dessert of the years.  Chinese pastries are
okay… but mango pudding is better, but we might try coconut pudding this year… more subtle.. It's always a tradition to have
something sweet after the meal.  We thought about having Scottish blood
pudding… but there is a reason why we have the Gung Haggis Fat Choy
dinner in a Chinese restaurant instead of a Scottish restaurant.  I
like Chinese food better, and that includes the puddings!  Julie wants
tapioca pudding.  I tried the black sesame pudding but it was very strong – Definitely mango or coconut pudding  is better.