VisitScotland comes to Vancouver to celebrate Homecoming Scotland with Toddish McWong and Gung Haggis Fat Choy

A Toast to Scotland, Rabbie Burns, and to Gung Haggis Fat Choy with “The Famous Grouse” whisky and haggis won ton!

RL103 by you.

Riddle, CEO of VisitScotland, and Todd Wong, creator of Burns Night,
“Gung Haggis Fat Choy”, “toast” the Haggis Won Ton during a visit by the
Scottish Tourism Organization to Vancouver, B.C., to promote the Year
of Homecoming Scotland 2009, Tuesday, January 20, 2009. – photo Rich Lam

It is indeed an honour to be chosen one of the 250 Burns Night Suppers to receive the special commemorative 37 year old The Famous Grouse blended whisky to auction off for charity.  I was contacted only last week by Fiona Stewart of VisitScotland – the Scottish Tourism Organization.

Raise Money for your Favourite Charity with Limited edition bottles of The Famous Grouse up for Auction

We soon set up a dinner meeting for Tuesday January 20th, at Floata Restaurant in Vancouver Chinatown.  This is the site of Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner, where on Sunday January 25th, we will host a jam-packed dinner filled with music, poetry, mirth and fun.

Vancouver was the first stop for VisitScotland Chief Executive Philip Riddell and his assistant Lee McRonald.  Our Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner is the only Burns Supper in British Columbia, that will be receiving the special 37 year old bottle of  The Famous Grouse.  They will next fly up to Calgary, then onwards to Toronto where they will celebrate January 23rd at the CN Tower for the St. Andrews Society of Toronto‚Äôs Burns Supper where an original watercolour painting of Canada Hill on the Isle of Bute by the highly acclaimed Glasgow artist Alma Wolfson is being auctioned off to help in the promotion of Scotland's year of Homecoming.

The watercolour (shown below) is a perspective of Loch Striven and the
Kyles of Bute from the vantage point where families gathered in the
1700s on the Isle of Bute to wave goodbye to friends and family
emigrating to Canada from Scotland.

Canada Hill by Alma Wolfson

There are many connections between Scotland and Canada, and both Mr. Riddell and Mr. McRonald paid careful attention, as I shared that BC's first Governor 150 years ago, was James Douglas who was born in British Guyana from a Scottish father and a Creole mother.  BC's first premier was John Foster McCreight back in 1871.  I described how I am “inviting” these important BC historical figures to the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, because life-size photographs of them were featured in the “The Party” display at the Royal BC Museum, celebrating 150 of BC's most fascinating figures.. including “Toddish McWong.”

They were certainly intrigued by descriptions of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, as I walked them around the Floata Restaurant, the largest Chinese restaurant in North America with a seating capacity of 1000.  We hope to host 500 people for this year's dinner, and increase from 430 people last year.  I described some of the performances that would happen, such as Silk Road Music, the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pipe Band, opera soprano Heather Pawsey, as well as poetry performances by Rita Wong, Jan Walls and Tommy Tao.  Mr. Riddell asked for one of our posters which describes and lists our many performers. 

It was only fitting that we introduce Mr. Riddell to our deep-fried haggis and shrimp won ton dumplings. Crisp and lightly fried, they were a delight.

“I've never had haggis won ton,” Mr. Riddell shared with me. 

“I've never had “The Famous Grouse,” I shared back.  Both would prove to be delightful.

I explained that “Dim Sum” meant “pieces of the heart” or “touches the heart,.” and we joked about what the haggis was actually made of.

2009_January 078Rich Lam (standing on chair) and Lee McRonald (sitting) take pictures of Todd Wong and Philip Riddell – photo Deb Martin

Joining me to meet Philip Riddell and his assistant Lee McRonald, were my girlfriend Deb Martin, Judy Maxwell event production assistant.  We also invited two special friends of ours who are important community leaders with deep roots in Vancouver's Scottish community.

 Joy Coghill O.C. was born in Ayreshire, the home county of Robbie Burns.  She came to Canada as a child.  She became a dedicated actor, director and producer.  As artistic director of the Vancouver Playhouse, she commissioned and produced the ground-breaking play “The Ecstasy of Rita Joe.”  Joy easily spoke with Mr. Riddell about Scottish history, Burns, and many other common points.

Chuck Lew Q.C. is a Vancouver lawyer, who has carried the torch for the Chinatown Lion's Club Burns Dinners since the 1950's.  He grew up with many Scottish friends that his nickname was “McLew.”  Chuck has been fascinated by the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, and last year we finally attended each other's Chinatown Burns dinners as guests.

Photographer Rich Lam, set up some photographs to demonstrate the meeting of VisitScotland Chief Executive with “Toddish McWong” and the haggis won ton, while Lee McDonald chatted with Deb and Judy about Scotland, and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.

2009_January 080 Haggis Siu-mei pork dumplings.

Both the haggis wonton dumplings and the haggis siu-mei pork dumplings were hits with our guests.  Mr. Riddell was surprised at how good they were, and Joy was absolutely delighted.

We look forward to auctioning the special 37 year old Famous Grouse whisky to help raise money for charity.  And we may even direct some of the monies raised to Scotland's National Trust to help protect and conserve items for the new Robbie Burns Museum.

It would certainly be appropriate to donate money for a Chinese item in the Burns Collection:

(click image to expand it)
China Punch Bowl
Burns used this pretty punch bowl at his brother Gilbert's wedding.
To make a donation for the conservation of this item, please contact the Burns 250 Team (details above)

In appreciation, Mr. Riddell thanked us for our hospitality, as we thanked him for the gift of The Famous Grouse.  He told us that he was very pleased to meet people who are so enthusiastic about Scottish culture and history.

Hopefully next year, Deb and I will go to visit Scotland.  If so, we will have two new friends to visit with!  And maybe there will be a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner on Scottish soil!

RL102 by you.

Riddle, CEO of VisitScotland, and Todd Wong, creator of Burns Night,
“Gung Haggis Fat Choy”, try the Haggis Wonton during a visit by the
Scottish Tourism Organisation to Vancouver, B.C., to promote the Year
of Homecoming Scotland 2009, Tuesday, January 20, 2009.
– Rich Lam.

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