Monthly Archives: December 2003

Todd Wong's email review about the 2003 dinner

Hey Suzi

The dinner got kind of scary this year… I was expecting 300 up from 200 from last year in 2002… then I counted everybody… and it was close to 400. I phoned up the restaurant on Sat morning and told them to add 10 more tables. We served 39 tables for 390 people. The Scots drank lots [ROLAND's NOTE:not sure who you mean by 'the Scots' 🙂 , we were all Scottish and we were all Chinese that night and we are all Canadian, right?] and sometimes weren't quiet enough for some of the performers. The sound system faded out 3/4 of the way back. I think our sound advisor thought that the 2 large speakers would carry to the back… Normally but not with people eating… occasionally talking… and singing along…

The dinner was truly a great success – you'd love the music… we all have fun. We join in on each other's songs… or ask each other to join in. Give me a sheet with chords I say… I'll just play the chords. We have a great jazz bassist. Harry Aoki who grew up in a Canadian Internment camp for Japanese… He claims a Romanian Rhapsody saved him as he learned how to play it on mouth harp. Harry was interviewed on CBC's national “Sounds Like Canada” radio program on January 23. Harry performed 2 traditional Scottish tunes with his good friend Margaret Gallagher, who also works for CBC Radio Early Edition.
In 2002, Margaret came and I asked her to read her piece from RicePaper Magazine titled “This is a Hapa House.” It is all about growing up in her Chi-rish household. Margaret is Chinese Indonesian on her motherÂ’s side and Chinese American father. After singing our traditional chorus of “When Asian Eyes Are Smiling”, we followed with a chorus of “When Chirish Eyes Are Smiling,” – just for Margaret.
I was also interviewed with Shelagh Rogers about Gung Haggis Fat Choy which aired on Wednesday, January 22nd. Shelagh is a hoot! When I walked into the Roundhouse makeshift studio, she started waving to me as soon as she saw me… and I had never formally met the woman yet! I told Shelagh about the dinner's origins and about how the interacial fusion really represents Canada to me, especially as all my cousins on my Mom's side had married White-Canadians. Shelagh really really wanted to attend the dinner – but couldn't due to having to fly back to Toronto. She did promise to attend for 2004.

This year we got some good radio promo on CBC radio and CITY TV. I was featured on a program called DiverseCITY as a panel discussed “What is White” then I was on the show CITY Cooks – explaining the concept and dishes for “Gung Haggis Fat Choy.” The restaurant owner Victor Li actually cooked two dishes! Jelly Fish and beef lettuce wrap. Joe McDonald, my piper also came along with me and played on the show while we cooked!

Making up the Gung Haggis houseband were returning musicians Pat Coventon, Karen Larsen, pd wohl, plus my friend Ula Shines as assisting host. Pat has been a key music block providing the soundsystem and the keyboards since 2000. He peformed an original composition titled “Asia Blue”. With pd and Karen, they performed a version of the ProclaimerÂ’s “I Would Walk 500 Miles” with their own chorus of “Eat Haggis – Eat Haggis – Eat Haggis ‘cos itÂ’s good for you!”

A musical highlight was 12 year old Alex Sachs who described himself as ½ Chinese, ¼ English and ¼ Welsh. Alex performed a solo piece on violin, then we performed a duet of Brahm’s Hungarian Dance No.5 with a spontaneous band accompaniment. He performed very well considering a guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, tambourinist, and tabla drummer joined us on stage, although the polyrhythms of the tabla threw us off a bit at the beginning – we recovered well.
People did ask why Hungarian Dance at a Chinese Robbie Burns Dinner? I explained that it was half way between China and ScotlandÂ… and that the Huns in Hungary originally came from ancient China. They accepted that answer. Fast thinking on my part.
People kept saying to me – “Your parents must be proud of you.” Right… proud that their first-born son dons a skirt and plays accordion in public both at the same time! Hah! (Both my parents did attend the dinner – they put together 3 tables this year- up from one 1/2 last year).
Then I go and tell the audience that all the first primeministers of Canada were Scottish, and that one day soon… I would really like to see a Chinese Canadian Prime Minister… people cheeredÂ… then I admitted that I have invited all the Scots to my dinner purposely to intermix with the Chinese, so hopefully we can elect somebody with both Scottish and Chinese bloodlines – because that will probably give us a chance.

Then I ask if there is anybody in the audience that is Chinese or Scottish and is dating or married to the other… People put up there hands….

“See it's started already…” I point out… then I say hi to my childhood friend Susan Chow who married a Scottish-Canadian who got married in a kilt, and I ask if it's alright to tell everybody she's expectin'… A cheer and round of applause goes up from the audience….

The things my friends put up with from me….

Peace & Blessings…. Todd

ps check out for a review of the Gung Haggis dinner

Pictures of the 2003 dinner on

VanEats Review of the 2003 Gunghaggisfatchoy dinner

“Dreams are made, if people try.” – Terry Fox

Todd Wong, Terry's Team member since 1993.

Heather Pawsey (noted soprano) joins the musical lineup

Heather Pawsey will join the Gung Haggis Fat Choy musical line-up for January 25th. She is a noted Soprano recently seen in Vancouver Opera's “Electra” as the Confidant. For the Dec 7th show “Music and Tea From Taiwan,” composer Gordon Chin specifically wrote Leaves Imprint with Heather in mind, and dedicated it to her and the Turning Point Ensemble… and besides all the awards, noted gigs, tours and radio performances – Heather is tres cool! Heather also LOVES Robbie Burns dinners. She looks forward to singing songs in both Mandarin and Gaelic. She secretly professes that Ye Banks and Braes and My Luv is Like a Red Red Rose are her favorite Burns songs… Heather has hosted her own Burns dinners, and can recite Address to a Haggis as well as Robert Service, a noted Scots-Canadian who wrote the immortal words: There are strange things done in the midnight sun…

Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2004 Pre-Announcement

Mark January 24th and 25th, 2004 on your calendar! That's right there will be two Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners this year. Both start at 6:00pm.  Both will be different and both will be well worth going to . Here are the details so far (more to come!): WHAT: Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Toddish McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner FOOD: A quirky fusion/mix/buffet of Scottish Canadian and Chinese Canadian culture 12 course Chinese banquet dinner including haggis served with plum or sweet and sour sauces. For 2004, we present the debut of Gung Haggis Wun-Tun! CULTURE: Featuring musical performers Brave Waves and Silk Road Ensemble + more! WHEN: 6:00pm January 24 & 25, 2004 WHERE: Flamingo Chinese Restaurant, 3489 Fraser St. HOW MUCH:Tix $50 each or $500 for advanced reservation for table of 10. $60 at the door if there are any tickets left. INFORMATION: 604-987-7124 or  TICKETS: Contact Firehall Arts Centre Box Office: 604-689-0926 or WATCH: The CBC television performance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” based on the dinner's concepts in late January 2004 just before the dinner.

Music and Tea from Taiwan

Check out this FREE program at North Vancouver's Centennial Theatre on Lonsdale Ave.

December 7th, Sunday, 7:30pm.

Heather Pawsley (of Scottish ancestry) is singing 3 songs in Mandarin + a new song especially composed for her.

Heather will be one of the performers at Gung Haggis Fat Choy on Jan 25th, 2004.

more details to be posted later…

Todd's first post – brief history of the dinner

Gung Haggis Fat Choy has been quite a journey from 1999 to 2004. It's pre-history started in 1998 with 16 people in Gloria Smyth's living room. Having never before attended a Robbie Burns dinner, I did my research at the Vancouver Public Library. 

I cooked most of the courses, while other people contributed dishes and other things.  Fiona brought a haggis, Gina made a Buddha's Feast, Rod picked up the Beef Lettuce Wrap.  I cooked up Wintermelon Soup, Snowpeas with Scallops, Steamed Salmon with Ginger and Sesame Oil.  In between each course, somebody read a poem or performed a song.

In 1999 I transformed the dinner into a fundraiser dinner for my dragon boat team – 40 people attended and we made $50 but at least I didn't have to cook anymore.  I brought my accordion and led singalongs of Scotland the Brave.  Guests such as Jim Wong-Chu read poetry and Sean Gunn played guitar and sang his Chinese Canadian folk songs.

Each year the dinner has roughly doubled in size. In 2001, we maxed out the New Grandview Szechwan Restaurant at 100 seats. In 2002, we maxed out the Spicy Court Restaurant with 200 seats in a snow storm. In 2003, we filled 390 seats at the Flamingo Restaurant on Fraser St.  

Each year the number and quality of performers has increased. Catherine McLellan came as a co host and singer for '00 and '01.  Pat Coventon first performed as accompanist in '00 and expanded to band leader, and featured performer every year up to '03.  Along the way Trev Sue-A-Quan and Joe McDonald with Brave Waves were added.  Sonia Bakker became a co-host when Catherine moved to California, and Ula Shines became a co-host in '03 after being a singer for '01 and '02.  12 year old Alex Sachs was featured on violin in '03.

For 2004, Gung Haggis Fat Choy expands to two nights – Jan 24 & 25. CBC television will also broadcast a performance special titled Gung Haggis Fat Choy – based on the concepts of my dinner. More details and links to the tv special later on…

I am grateful to all the friends and supporters that have enjoyed Gung Haggis Fat Choy: the dinner. But especially to all the performers over the years… Without their contributions, there would be no show – just the food. It is the performances that give the cultural context to each dish.

Performance Highlights have included Jim Wong-Chu's poem “Recipe For Tea” that breathes new meaning to the migration of tea from China. Sean Gunn's songs describe the hardships of the Chinese pioneers in Canada. Joe McDonald's bagpipes have become a traditional staple alongside the rice, noodles and haggis. Pat Coventon's musical support in this wacky idea along with his sound system that we have also outgrown along with 2 smaller restaurants.

I hope that this weblog created with Roland Taglao, will continue the expansion of my wacky view of multi/intra-culturalism. I mean… any dinner that expands from 40 to 800 people in 6 years, is featured on national radio and spawns a CBC television special… must be doing something right, eh? Peace & Blessings, Todd

Gung Haggis Fat Choy – a Poem by Todd Wong

Gung Haggis Fat Choy

By Todd Wong

What is Gung Haggis Fat Choy?

It is the inter-section of Chinese and Scottish cultures.

In a new land,

In a new voice,

In a new vision.

It is Gung Hay Fat Choy;

the traditional Chinese New Year greeting meaning “Longevity and Fortune.”

It is Robbie Burns Day;

the celebration of the Scottish poet Robbie Burns, and all things Scottish…

including the national dish of haggis:

Oatmeal and sheep organs mixed together and cooked in the stomach of a sheep

Just like some perverse mix of multi-culturalism.




Gung Haggis Fat Choy!

The Chinese called this land Gum San (Gold Mountain)

And the Scots gave it the name of Nova Scotia

Westerners became Easterners

The Far East becomes the Far West

Gung Haggis Fat Choy!

It is the play on words.

It is the play on cultures

It is the play of time and place.

It is simply the play of Canadians…

Gung Haggis Fat Choy!

Something Old

Something New

Something Borrowed

Something B-r-e-w-e-d…

Gung Haggis Fat Choy!

It's quirky

It's surprising

It's enlightening

And arising…

Gung Haggis Fat Choy!

It's a vision

It's a belief

What you see is what you get.

And you don't get what you can't see.

Ă“ 2003 Todd Wong