Category Archives: Gung Haggis Fat Choy DINNER 2009

Gung Haggis Fat Choy – news alerts from around the world

Every Year, there are news stories about Gung Haggis Fat Choy, that go around the world.

Here are the latest stories from the UK, Baltimore USA, and Vancouver's Courier and Georgia Straight papers:

Why Canada will never have an Obama, except maybe Todd Wong
Georgia Straight, Canada – 20 Jan 2009
Here’s my nominee for an Obama in Canada: Todd Wong, the founder of Gung Haggis Fat Choy. The wildly charismatic Vancouverite is a leader in bridging

Call to the Bard
Scotsman, United Kingdom –20 Jan 2009
VANCOUVER: Gung Haggis Fat Choy is an annual cultural event in British Columbia city that blends Canada's rich Scottish and Chinese traditions.
Reference Points
Baltimore Sun, United States – 18 Jan 2009
To cite one example, Heller profiles an annual dinner and performance event in Vancouver – dubbed Gung Haggis Fat Choy – that celebrates the city's Chinese
Spice is nice at Ashiana
Vancouver Courier,  Canada – 16 Jan 2009
is Robbie Burns' 250th birthday, yet one more good reason to head down
to Floata Restaurant for the utterly unique, “only in Vancouver,” Gung Haggis Fat
Obama’s inauguration proves that poetry isn’t completely dead, yet
Georgia Straight, Canada – 20 Jan 2009
He has, however, written works for Gung Haggis Fat Choy, the Vancouver International Writers Festival, and other culturati events.

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’s 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.

CBC TV's Gloria Macarenko to co-host Gung Haggis Fat Choy! Where is Clan Macarenko from?

What Scottish clan is CBC TV News anchor Gloria Macarenko from?

Celebrity Media co-hosts are confirmed!
Gloria Macarenko, CBC TV News anchor “Vancouver at Six”
Catherine Barr, Metro News / Radio 650 AM

Gloria Macarenko from CBC TV's “Vancouver at Six”
Gloria first got to learn about deep-fried haggis won ton when I
brought some down to her newscast, when CBC was promoting the 2004 Gung
Haggis Fat Choy television performance special.

View Clip

I'm really happy that CBC TV news anchor Gloria Macarenko is coming to co-host the 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner with myself and Catherine Barr.  It turns out that Gloria and Catherine also know each other and are really looking forward to having some fun at the Gung Haggis dinner.

I looked in a tartan clan wesbite and found MacA'chailles, MacAchounich, MacAdam, MacAdie, MacAindra,  MacAldonich, MacAlduie,  MacAlex,  MacAlister, MacAllen, MacAndeoir, MacAndrew, MacAngus,  MacAra, MacAree, MacAskill, MacAslan, MacAuselan, and MacAy… but no MacArenko!

Gung Haggis 2008 Dinner 152

What clan is Catherine Barr from?  I found there are clans named Barrie and Barron, and of course there is MacNeil of Barra, or the Barra MacNeils.  I know that Catherine's family has a family tartan… In fact, it was
her father Robert Barr that introduced me to the Burns Club of
Vancouver about 5 years ago.  Last year Cat managed to get 10 kilted men on stage all singing a “Toast to the Lassies” – what will she lead us into this year?

Special musical performers:

Silk Road Music Ensemble:
Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibault have become good friends since I first met them on the set of the 2004 CBC television performance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy.”  I really appreciated what they were doing musically, and they really appreciated what I was doing.  They have performed at the Gung Haggis dinner in 2004, 2007.  Qiu Xia plays virtuoso pipa (Chinese lute) and Andre can play fiery flamenco music – but they also play scottish and french-canadian reels and jigs too!  For their 2009 Gung Haggis performance they are adding a Scottish-Canadian percussionist, Liam MacDonald.

2008_Oct 009

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pipe & Drums
Last year, Bob Wilkins approached me with the idea of creating a Gung Haggis Fat Choy pipe band… with lion dancers and chinese drums.  Okay… I was hooked.  Our paths have crossed in our mutual appreciation of BC Scottish and Chinese pioneer histories, and Bob has a vision of a multicultural pipe band that could also incorporate BC's Chinese cultural history and traditions. Okay… we have the pipers but are still searching for Chinese lion dancers.

Heather Pawsey opera soprano
Heather sings in Mandarin, Cree, Italian, French, German, Spanish and probably Russian and Scottish too!  Heather has graced stages with Vancouver Opera, Vancouver Symphony and many other ensemble and chamber groups throughout BC. She always lights up the stage when she comes to Gung Haggis dinners, such as 2004 and 2007.  Heather grew up wearing kilts on the Saskatchewan prairies, and she really loves the Gung Haggis concept.  In 2008 she was paired with DJ Timothy Wisdom to create something new and exciting.  She called me up and said “Todd – I've got something for you and Gung Haggis!”

Timothy Wisdom Promo 2007

Timothy Wisdom DJ
I only met Timothy last week, when he came to the Gung Haggis Fat Choy rehearsal dinner on January 11th.  He brought with him a dvd of his performance with Heather Pawsey.  What was on it?  Opera with hip hop beats… Scottish and Chinese musical notes and references…  And hopefully Timothy will spin some tunes after the Gung Haggis dinner, so we can party until midnight for a countdown to Chinese New Year! “Best Party Rockin DJ in Vancouver…a sonic genius” – Vancouver Folk Festival  “so much exhilaration in his sets…slaying audiences” – E13 Records

Joe McDonald, our “rapping bagpiper”
I first met Joe McDonald when he performed with a South Asian tabla drummer in 2001.  I saw the kind of world music sounds they were creating and three weeks later, his music ensemble Brave Waves was performing at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.  Joe has performed at every Gung Haggis dinner since, including the Gung Haggis Fat Choy CBC television performance special too!  A few years ago, we starting “rapping” the Robbie Burns immortal poem “Address to a Haggis.”  We created an MP3 file with Trevor Chan of the No Luck Club… and it is going to be played on BBC Radio Scotland's Robbie Burns radio special on January 25th for Burns' 250th birthday – Woo-hoo!

Adrienne WongNeworld Theatre actor/writer for “Mixie and the Half-Breeds
Adreinne is a long time friend of Gung Haggis Fat Choy.  She co-hosted the 2004 dinner, and in 2003 she paddled on the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.  Growing up with Chinese and French ancestry, heritage and culture, Adrienne knows what it's like to walk in both worlds, as well as in-between.  She's written a new theatrical play called “Mixie and the Half-Breeds.”  We think it's perfect for a Gung Haggis Fat Choy world… and she's going to give us a sneak preview before the show opens later this year. I saw Adrienne give a stage reading of “My Name is Rachel Corrie” last fall – fantastic!

Special guests include:The Famous Grouse whisky 37 year old blend
Larry Grant, Musqueam Elder
Rita Wong, 2008 BC Book Poetry Prize winner “Forage”
Dr. Leith Davis, SFU Centre for
Scottish Studies
Jan Walls, former SFU Director of International Communications
Tao, poet translator
Chuck Lew QC, keeper for the flame for 49 years of Burns Dinners for the Vancouver Chinatown Lions Club.
+ 1 bottle of 37 year old Famous Grouse scotch – one of only 250 made to be featured at Burns Suppers around the world.

2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy menu revealed… to welcome the Year of the Ox

What is being served at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner to welcome the Year of the Ox?

Last week we did a menu tasting rehearsal dinner.  This is essential to the planning of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, because we want to make sure the food selection is right.  And it is a perfect way to introduce the performers to each other, and we can work out possible ideas.

Deep-fried haggis dumplings + Spring rolls – from our 2005 menu – photo Todd Wong

Each year we re-adjust the menu for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.  We try to find new ways to eat haggis, and new dishes to introduce to people not familar with Chinese food.

For 2009, I think we have come up with some real winners.   After having deep-fried haggis won ton for the past few years, I have asked for won ton dumplings that were made in 2005.  My friend Judy Maxwell and I had dim sum today at Floata, and tried these fancy shrimp dumplings stuffed with green vegetables.  Delicious!  I think people will be very happy! 

The other new dish will be Pan-fried sliced squid and sliced chicken in a Tarot Basket.  It was a big hit at our rehearsal dinner.  The squid will be our seafood representative, as we will not be having ginger crab this year.  I heard more comments that it was messy and hard to eat, instead of that they LOVED eating the crab.

Below are the dishes currently planned for the 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner – subject to change!

10-course traditional Chinese Dinner featuring:

1)   Cold platter (Fusion of Chinese and Scottish Appetizers – Won Ton; Haggis Siu Mai; and Jelly fish – Vegetarian spring rolls or BBQ pork).
For the past two years, we had a buffet set up with haggis dim sum.  This was to encourage people to get up and move around the restaurant instead of just sitting down.  The inspiration was to have  a cocktail hour with appetizers – just like at a Western style dinner reception.  But the result was also long lines.  2009 also marks the return of jelly fish to the menu… a strange Chinese delicacy… 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.  

2)   Dried scallop, chicken and squash soup or 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.   We tried a fish maw corn soup at the rehearsal dinner – but it lacked pizazz.  Shark Fin soup has been one of my favorite soups since I was a child.  But due to its expensive cost and the environmental impact of Shark fin fishing – it is not an option.  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!  Hmmm…. that might be another option.  I like the way the soup can be served in the melon!!!  Very appropriate for Chinese New Year.

3)   Haggis ( piped in with Scottish bagpipes)
We 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 be 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 a traditional reading of the poem.  In years past, we selected members of the audience to each read a verse in their best gaelic english.

4)   Lettuce wrap with diced vegetables
How 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.

5)   Pan-fried sliced squid and prawns in a Tarot “Bird's Nest” Basket
We tried roasted fish with a spicy sweet and sour sauce at the rehearsal dinner – but it was voted down.  A long time ago, we used to have a scallop and mixed vegetables dish served in a potato nest… back in the early days when our guest total was 60 or 100.  This dish was a big hit at the rehearsal dinner.  After seeing the Bird's Nest stadium during the Beijing Summer Olympics – I think people will be inspired to quickly empty the squid and vegetables and turn the taro basket upside down, to see if it really does look like the Beijing Bird's Nest stadium.  Fish is a Chinese New Year's Dinner staple, because the prounciation of the word “Fish” in Chinese sounds similar to the words for “Good luck.”  But that probably depends on how good your pronounciation is, and if you speak Chinglish or not.

6)   Beef tenderloin with black pepper
It's the Year of the Ox… and we thought of having Ox-Tail soup…. and then said “Nah…”  We wanted a very tasty and special Beef dish to welcome in the Year of the Ox, and we found it.  Last year we had Mongolian Beef, recognizing that the Mongols traveled as far West as Hungary… or was that the Huns?  I have trouble telling the difference sometimes.  But you won't have any trouble deciding that this beef dish will be tender and peppery!

7)   Buddha feast
This 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.  Feb 7th starts a new 12 year cycle that begins with the
Year of the Rat – the first animal to see Buddha.  I was born in the
Year of the Rat.

8)   Crispy skinned chicken with shrimp chips
Healthier than KFC.  And the shrimp chips were always my favorites as a child. 

9)   Young Chow Fried Rice or E-Fu noodles
This is the dish you eat to fill yourself up, if you are still hungry.  We had E-Fu long life noodles last year, 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 aquired taste.  For 2009, we are going to go back to Young Chow Fried Rice.  It's still a very special and tasty dish, that everybody likes!

10)  Mango pudding
This has been our most popular dessert of the years.  Chinese pastries are okay… but mango pudding is better. 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, but I think the mango pudding is better.

Robbie Burns Day and Chinese New Year – How often do they collide?

How real is the occurrence of Gung Haggis Fat Choy?

It's like the mystical town of Brigadoon, that very cheesy American musical, starring the immortal Gene Kelly, and written by Alan Jay Lerner (book and
lyrics) and Frederick Loewe. According to both the theatre musical or the movie –  Brigadoon, is a small Scottish village that remained
unchanging and invisible to the outside world except for one, special day every
hundred years, when it could be seen and visited by outsiders.

According to the Chinese Fortune calendar for 1900 to 2020, Chinese New Year has fallen on January 26th only 3 times during this 120 year span.

Chinese New  Year has fallen on Robbie Burns Eve on only 3 times.

But… Chinese New Year has occurred on January 25th, Robbie Burns birthday only 5 times during this 120 year span.

In 2004, CBC Vancouver made a television performance special based on the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, after CBC regional director Rae Hull attended the 2002 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner of 200 guests, during one of those rare Vancouver snow storms.

View Clip
Gung Haggis Fat Choy
Chinese New
Year. Robbie Burns Supper. Gung Haggis Fat Choy fuses the two unique
cultural events in a celebration of music, dance and tradition.
Featuring performances by The Paperboys and Silk Road Music.

A CBC Television production.

January, 24 1925   1925 Green Wood Cow Year
January, 24 1955   1955 Green Wood Sheep Year
January, 24 2001   2001 White Metal Snake Year

January, 26 1914       1914 Green Wood Tiger Year
January, 26 1933       1933 Black Water Chicken Year
January, 26 2009       2009 Brown Earth Cow Year

January, 25 1906       1906 Red Fire Horse Year
January, 25 1944       1944 Green Wood Monkey Year   
January, 25 1963       1963 Black Water Rabbit Year
January, 25 1982       1982 Black Water Dog Year
January, 25 2020       2020 White Metal Rat Year

So on January 25th, 2009, we are celebrating both the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, and the incoming Chinese New Year of the Ox.

We will have a DJ Timothy Wisdom to spin some tunes until midnight, when we will hold a countdown to Chinese New Year.

Then we go home.

100 pounds of haggis at a Chinese New Year dinner? That's Gung Haggis Fat Choy!

What do you do with 100 pounds of haggis at a Chinese New Year Dinner?

Gung Haggis 2008 Dinner 177 by you.

Kilted guest at 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner tries the haggis dim sum – photo VFK

Have you tried our haggis dim sum yet?  Each year since 2004, we have been presenting variations of deep-fried haggis won ton.  We have also mixed haggis into spring rolls and pork dumplings – but the deep-fried haggis won ton is my favorite.  Afterall, I hear the Scots like deep-fried Mars bars – and that must taste like a little bit of deep-fried choclate heaven.

Dim Sum can be translated as “pieces of the heart” or “touch the heart” or “pieces of heaven.”  These are small portions of food that are succulent and delicious.  But what happens when you add haggis to this little heavenly morsels?  Will haggis, one of the world's most celebrated and reviled foods ascend to the celestial kingdom?

But you cannot give a proper “Address to A Haggis” if it's already cut up into little wee piece.

Traditional Scots still like to see a traditional haggis at a Burns Dinner.  We serve a one pounder of haggis to each table.  It might be not enough for 10 Scots guests – but it is more than enough for 10 non-Scottish diners.  To solve the problem we encourage people to share.

We also serve a 7 pound banquet haggis that is “as lang's my arm” to our head table.  This ensures that it is pretty in pictures… as well as extra leftovers for any of our guests.

GHFC2008 VF2_1709.JPG
Bagpiper Joe McDonald does the honours at the 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner – photo VFK.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An' cut you up wi' ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

– 3rd verse from Robert Burns poem “Address to A Haggis”

Now imagine layering a little bit of haggis with Chinese plum sauce, adding crispy noodles, finely diced vegetables and Chinese water chestnuts, and serving on a delicate leaf of lettuce.  This is our Gung Haggis lettuce wrap, a cultural and culinalry fusion twist. But people say they have never seen people eat so much haggis, or eat haggis so quickly!

And what does our traditional haggis maker think of all this?

In 2006, we were paid a high compliment when haggis rancher Peter Black attended the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner with his family!  Peter loved what we had done with his haggis.

Peter Black & Sons, at Park Royal Mall in West Vancouver, is BC's largest producer of haggis.  Peter's haggis is a family secret with extra spices.  It is different from a traditional lard recipe – which I have occasionally gagged on.  I describe a Peter Black haggis to be like a nice liver pate, suitable for serving with crackers at your next Super Bowl party.

Be sure to visit Peter Black & Sons at Park Royal South – because there is an annual display of “live wild haggis.”  Often the haggis is sleeping, and you have to be very careful not to disturb it – but if you're quiet, you can sneak up on it.

Peter Black & Sons with family at the 2006 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, linking hands to sing Auld Lang Syne to bring a finale to the dinner event – photo Ray Shum

Here are some of the menus from our past dinners:

2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy menu announced: now with Mongolian Beef to celebrate Year of the Rat

2007 Menu for Gung Haggis Fat Choy™:Toddish McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner

2006 Menu for Gung Haggis Fat Choy™: Toddish McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner – Celebrating the Year of the Dog

2005 Menu for Gung Haggis Fat Choy� at Floata Restaurant

Todd Wong accordionist featured on Co-Op Radio's Accordion-Noir 9:30-10-10pm January 9th 2009

Accordion Noir is the Co-Op Radio show featuring… what else?  Accordion music!
Todd Wong is the featured guest on January 9th, 9:30-10:30pm.  CFRO: Co-Op Radio 102.7 FM.


I will play some solo accordion pieces + select some of my favorite tunes featuring accordion by other artists.  Maybe the Bruce Springsteen acoustic version of Fire, or the new Emmylou Harris album “All I Intended to Be” featuring a song co-written with Canadians Kate & Anna McGarrigle titled “Sailing Roudn the Room.”

Quartetto Gelato cd's are favorites of mine that often accompany road trips.  Maybe some tangos or classical music?  I have a Joe Marcerollo cd featuring the contemporary Alexina Louie composition Earth Cycles. Alexina is the most accomplished Chinese-Canadian composer, appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2005.

I performed last year on Accordion Noir – just before the 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.  My bagpiper friend Joe McDonald also brought along his accordion, and we jammed along to our recorded rap version of “Address to a Haggis”

Maybe I will also play some of the singalong songs that we regularly perform for the Gung Haggis dinner (January 25) and the World Poetry Gung Haggis Poetry night at the Vancouver Public Library (January 26).  Maybe a version of Scotland the Brave, Loch Lomand, and When Asian Eyes Are Smiling.

How long have I been playing?  Since I was in grade 5 Elementary School, when I was 11 years old. 

I started out on the Palmer-Hughes accordion course, and was soon placed on the Music Festival competition circuit including the Coquitlam and Vancouver Kiwanis Music Festivals.  Later on as a late teen, I went down to Seattle to compete in the North West Accordion Teachers' Association Festival, where I once placed 2nd in the King Division by performing the 17 page Manhattan Concerto by memory.

So…. my repertoire is basically classical music – everything from Bach's Toccata in D minor, Strauss Waltzes, to Gerswin's Rhapsody in Blue.  The past few years has found me buying music books with Celtic and Latin songs, as well as Beatles music.

Hey, I just found my cd copy of Jou Tou which features my friends from Silk Road Music Ensemble Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibault.  Amy Stephens is playing accordion on this album.

2008 was a fantastic year for Gung Haggis Fat Choy: reviewing last year’s events

Every year Gung Haggis Fat Choy attracts media attention and finds new ways to explore cultural diversity.  Here’s a look back at 2008.

There were a number of media articles prior to the 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner event.  We were mentioned in the Vancouver Sun, Co-op Radio, Georgia Straight, and Shaw TV’s “The Express”.  On Robbie Burns Day, Todd was interviewed on Rock 101’s Brother Jake Show with Vancouver councilor Raymond Louie, then with bagpiper Joe McDonald, Todd and Joe performed and excerpt of their “Haggis Rap” for CBC Newsworld television.

Gung Haggis 2008 Dinner 160 by you.

Catherine Barr and Todd Wong auction off a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label scotch at the 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner – photo VFK.

ON THE BURNER – by Mia Stainsby

Todd Wong featured interview on Co-Op Radio’s Accordion Noir

Georgia Straight – Blog  – Jan 16
I will wear a kilt’ to Robbie Burns dinner, Coun. Raymond McLouie …

Gung Haggis Fat Choy with Sukhi Ghuman on Shaw TV’s The Express

Rock 101’s Brother Jake Show with Vancouver city councilor Raymond Louie

CBC Newsworld update for Todd Wong & Joe McDonald appearance:

What to expect at Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2008 dinner – how to enjoy and have fun!

Metro News posts story and picture of Gung Haggis Fat Choy

Gung Haggis Fat Choy in Province Newspaper today for Chinese New Year

Full of surprises…. Gung Haggis Fat Choy celebrates 10th Anniversary for Toddish McWong’s Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner

From the Brunei Times to the Scottish Sunday Post, Toddish McWong is becoming known the world, o’er

download by you.
Vancouver councilor Raymond Louie did show up in a Royal Stuart tartan kilt.  Here he stands with VIP host Deb Martin and Gregor Robertson MLA (now Vancouver mayor) at the 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner – photo Dave Samis

Tonight: George McWhirter and Fred Wah featured for Gung Haggis Fat Choy World Poetry Night at Vancouver Public Library

Georgia Straight pokes fun at “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” becoming a icon of cultural diversity

North Seattle Herald-Outlook
has written a story about the upcoming 2nd coming of Toddish McWong to
Seattle.  Last year we staged a Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns
Chinese New Year Dinner on Chinese New Year Day in Seattle.  It was a
benefit for the Pacific North West Junior Pipe Band. 

Eric on the Road podcast with Gung Haggis Fat Choy – hitting US pod cast waves

Gung Haggis dragon boat team team hits the water with a Global TV cameraman filming them to celebrate BC’s cultural diversity

Feb 24

Seattle Gung Haggis Fat Choy II, sells out and sets new standards!

Performers for 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy 250th Robbie Burns Birthday Dinner + Chinese New Year's Eve

Gung Haggis Fat Choy performers understand cultural fusion, as well as BC's pioneer history by the Scots and Chinese

But most important of all, the performers are people that I have met through my intercultural travels and adventures.  I select performers that inspire and astound me, and whom I admire.  I select performers who are enthusiastic and appreciate what Gung Haggis Fat Choy is about.

Bagpiper Joe McDonald tries on the Chinese Lion head mask for Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2008 – photo Jaime Griffiths.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy is a dinner like no other. 
Jam-packed with cross-cultural references to the Scottish and Chinese
pioneer history of British Columbia, it feeds its audience a
cultural-fusion cuisine of deep-fried haggis wun tun and lettuce wrap
in a 10 course Chinese banquet.  It looks forward to the future of
Chinese-Scottish-Canadian mixed DNA, and present-time Hapa-Canadian
culture of mixed ethnicity.

12th Annual Toddish McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner

January 25th, 2009
5:00 reception
6:00 dinner
9:30pm After Party Chinese New Years Eve Countdown.
Floata Seafood Restaurant
#400 – 180 Keefer St.
Vancouver Chinatown.

PERFORMERS for 2009:

Silk Road Music Ensemble

was featured in the 2004 CBC television performance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy.” Principals Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibault have traveled around the world and bring their worldly perspectives back to Canada to share.  They will be bringing percussionists with them for their 2009 performance.  Check out Qiu Xia's project for the Cultural Olympiad on Feb. 1st in Vancouver's Chinatown.

Opera Soprano
Heather Pawsey + guests

Heather grew up on the Canadian prairies wearing tartans as part of her Scottish-Canadian heritage.  Today she sings in many different languages including Mandarin Chinese and Cree.  Recently she was involved in the Brief Encounters project that paired her with a very non-opera performing project.  Heather merged their musical creativities with a little bit Chinese and a little bit Scottish, which she wants to bring to Gung Haggis Fat Choy

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pipe Band

Bob Wilkins wanted to create a new pipe band that acknowledged and drew on BC's Scottish and Chinese Canadian history.  He asked me if we could work together and create something special.  We are imagining Scottish bagpipes and Chinese drums with Lion dancers… We don't quite know what is going to happen – but the sound of 10 bagpipers at the restaurant with drums should be wonderful!

Robbie Burns Chinese clapper tale by Dr. Jan Walls

Dr. Jan Walls is an expert in Chinese history and language.  He missed our 2004 Gung Haggis Dinner because of a “command performance” invitation by Yo-Yo Ma at the Peabody Essex Museum in Boston.  Jan was a smash hit at our 2005 dinner, and this time he's going to do something special for Robbie's 250th birthday!

Joe McDonald
“rapping bagpiper”

Joe has brought his special musical talents to Gung Haggis Fat Choy for every dinner since 2001.  We have performed on CBC Newsworld and The National together.  Joe's band Brave Waves was featured in the CBC television performance special Gung Haggis Fat Choy.  One of our most requested performances is our “Gung Haggis Rap” – our take on Burns' immortal Address to a Haggis – which is going to be featured in a BBC Radio Scotland special radio show for Burns' 250th.

Rita Wong

Rita's book of poetry “Forage” won the 2008 BC Book Awards Dorothy Livesay Prize for Poetry.  Like Burns, she has a keen eye for social justice and equalization of the sexes.  She is Assistant Professor in Critical and Cultural Studies for Emily Carr University  of Art and Design.
Her work investigates the relationships between decolonization, social
justice, ecology, and contemporary poetics.

Dr. Leith Davis

Leith is an expert in Burns, and has just been interviewed by BBC Radio Scotland for their 250th Anniversary Burns radio special.  She is also the director for the Scottish Studies Program at Simon Fraser University.  She has heard much about Gung Haggis Fat Choy and looks forward to her first Gung Haggis experience.  Boy… will she be surprised!

lots of special guests

a Gung Hagigs dragon dance

special celtic musicians

lots of Robert Burns poetry

lots of surprises
more to be announced

Firehall Arts Centre Box Office: 604.689.0926
Online ticket sales also available

$60 + $5 service charge = $65
Student price is $50 + $4.50 = $54.50 (must show student high school or university ID)
Children's price is $40 + $4.00 = $44 (ages 13 and under).

TABLE OF 10 (single item)
$600 + $20 service charge.
(save $30 in service charge by ordering a table)

Tickets can mailed out or picked up in advance, or held at will call.

All seats assigned in priority of ordering
except designated sponsor, performer and VIP tables.
If you would like to have 2 tickets at the VIP table or performer's – please sponsor it for $600.

Tix for Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2009 available Dec 15 – 9am through Firehall Arts Centre

Celebrate Chinese New Year's Eve and Robbie Burns 250th Birthday on the same night!
Gung Haggis 2008 Dinner 160 by you.2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner: Catherine Barr and Todd Wong auction off a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label scotch- photo VFK

WHEN: January 25th, 2009

WHERE:  Floata Seafood Restaurant

#400 – 180 Keefer St.
Vancouver Chinatown

TIME:  5pm- Reception

6pm Dinner

9:30pm After Party Chinese New Years Eve Countdown.

Firehall Arts Centre Box Office: 604.689.0926
Online ticket sales also available

$60 + $5 service charge = $65
Student price is $50 + $4.50 = $54.50 (must show student high school or university ID)
Children's price is $40 + $4.00 = $44 (ages 13 and under).

TABLE OF 10 (single item)
$600 + $20 service charge.
(save $30 in service charge by ordering a table)

Tickets can mailed out or picked up in advance, or held at will call.

We have chosen to return to the Firehall Arts Centre as our ticket seller, to support them in their good work of bringing multicultural programming to the City of Vancouver, and their emphasis

Online Ticket sales available through Tickets Tonight:
click here –

All seats assigned in priority of ordering
except designated sponsor, performer and VIP tables.
If you would like to have 2 tickets at the VIP table or performer's – please sponsor it for $600.

Firehall Arts Centre
will again provide gift certificates for their upcoming productions for raffle and silent auction prizes.

PERFORMERS for 2009:

The 2009 program will feature:
Silk Road Music Ensemble
Opera Soprano Heather Pawsey + guests
debut of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pipe Band
Robbie Burns Chinese clapper tale by Dr. Jan Walls
Joe McDonald “rapping bagpiper”
lots of special guests
a Gung Hagigs dragon dance
special celtic musicians
lots of Robert Burns poetry
lots of surprises
more to be announced