And the Winner Is

Because I love food, I read through the long list of semifinalists for the 2013 culinary James Beard Awards and noted all the restaurants from the list that I’ve had the honor of dining or drinking at below. Winners will be announced mid-March. Full list is here.

BEST NEW RESTAURANT

Rich Table, San Francisco

OUTSTANDING BAR PROGRAM

Bar Agricole, San Francisco
Pegu Club, NYC

OUTSTANDING CHEF

David Chang, Momofuku Noodle Bar, NYC
Michael Tusk, Quince, San Francisco

OUTSTANDING PASTRY CHEF

Melissa Chou, Aziza, San Francisco
Laura Sawicki, La Condesa, Austin

OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT

Foreign Cinema, San Francisco
Greens Restaurant, San Francisco
The Slanted Door, San Francisco

OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR

Caroline Styne (A.O.C.), West Hollywood, CA
Phil Suarez, Suarez Restaurant Group (ABC Kitchen), NYC

OUTSTANDING SERVICE

Michael Mina, San Francisco
Quince, San Francisco

OUTSTANDING WINE PROGRAM

A16, San Francisco
Nopa, San Francisco
Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, CA

OUTSTANDING WINE, SPIRITS, OR BEER PROFESSIONAL

Jörg Rupf, St. George Spirits, Alameda, CA

RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR

Danny Bowien, Mission Chinese Food, San Francisco and NYC
Thomas McNaughton, Flour + Water, San Francisco

BEST CHEF: WEST

Matthew Accarrino, SPQR, San Francisco
Nicolaus Balla, Bar Tartine, San Francisco
Mourad Lahlou, Aziza, San Francisco
Corey Lee, Benu, San Francisco

Thoughts on Affirmative Action

I wanted to provide my thoughts on the Supreme Court weighing in on the Fisher versus University of Texas affirmative action case, whereby Abigail Fisher is challenging the university on using race as a criteria in evaluating a candidate’s entry. She was denied.

I know my lawyer friends are going to be all over this. If I mis-state the facts please feel free to comment.

Diversity is extremely important in school and in the work place as we are all citizens of a multiethnic, multicultural community. Ideally where you go to school or where you work would naturally reflect the same exact diversity that you are a part of locally.

Taking a step back, it was not easy seeing some unqualified Latinos from my high school class get into Berkeley. When you think Berkeley, you think prestigious. You think, cut-throat. But with two Latino classmates in particular, they were unremarkable. So unremarkable that those who didn’t get in, would scream, ‘That’s so unfair!’ I get that. I have been there. I can sincerely imagine the unfairness Miss Fisher must feel, having been a talented, accomplished student, and not gotten into her top choice college. Or worse, watching less qualified classmates of color get in.

From a different perspective, there were a few times during my college career when white people have bluntly told me that I must have gotten in as a result of affirmative action. Ouch, that hurt. My retort was always, “Asians aren’t on the affirmative action list, you retard.” But you know what, their jabs made me study harder because I wanted to prove that I deserved to be there. And I used to tell myself, “I am so going to make more money than that asshole/bitch.  Just watch.”

Here’s the deal. It didn’t matter how you got in, whether it was through affirmative action or your own merit. You know what mattered? Whether or not you graduated. Those who got in through affirmative action and couldn’t stand the pressure, yeah, they failed. Bye-bye. There were also valedictorians who, once they got to Cal, had meltdowns when they realized they weren’t so smart anymore. They also dropped out. So my message to Miss Fisher is to move forward. I see why she’s bringing up this case, that she feels wronged, but girlfriend, you are so going to be more successful than all those UT chaps. The world is your oyster and you’re going to come out ahead.

There’s no doubt that affirmative action needs to be reformed, but I believe using race as a factor is an important tool that should not be taken away. Cmon, do you really want to go to a school that’s practically all Asian? That’s what Berkeley is. It’s 43% Asian. That percentage has drastically increased from the time I went to Cal. I don’t want to go to school with that kind of makeup. Why? So I can participate in a class where everyone wears glasses, plays ping pong, and your parents do your laundry? SHOOT ME. I swear that a diverse school is beneficial for everyone involved.

When is enough enough? It’s not hard. Look at the composition of the local community. When those percentages are reflected in the composition of a school or work place, then we will no longer need affirmative action.

San Antonio

San Antonio was one of the highlights of the trip. The drive from Austin was an hour, but went by quickly with the car games we played.

Even though we only spent half a day there, it seemed like such a cute city. We got our history fix by walking around the Alamo.

We played tourist by taking pictures of each other by the River Walk. Who cares if the River Walk is touristy, I loved it! Reminded me of Disneyland’s It’s a Small World—and who doesn’t love the happiest place on earth?

Here’s KC, always in the fucking way.

Me and my hubby, much better picture.

We enjoyed surprisingly good Tex-Mex at Boudros while sitting outside on the River Walk. Definitely recommend.

Trip to Texas

I’d never been to Texas before except for layovers on the way to Central and South America. Not that two cities define a state, especially a state as big as Texas, but I had such a great time in Austin and San Antonio last week. The trip was an ideal 5 days. We were joined by friends from both coasts. And the weather was unbeatable. Perfectly hot, which is exactly what I was looking for. Anything warmer than chilly SF makes me so very happy! Sun was my #1 trip factor and Texas certainly came through.

Something else that stood out to me was how friendly everyone was. Must be that southern hospitality. The only swearing I heard was from other tourists. I’m used to swearing and hearing a lot of it, so the lack of cussing in Texas didn’t go unnoticed by a potty-mouth such as myself.

Midwestern Hiatus

If you haven’t been reading my tweets or status updates, or seen Keith fervently checking me in everywhere, then you don’t know my hiatus was due to a blissful 5-day vacation in Austin, Texas with a quick day trip to San Antonio. Fun, relaxing, good friends. Everything that you want your vacation to be. As much as I love vacationing with Dean (I can vacation by myself and love that too), the fun factor goes up when you’re playing car games to while away the driving time, staying up past 3am acting out celebrities, and having everyone get different items on the menu so we can canvas the restaurant’s full cuisine. I’m detoxing until Saturday.

I will post on the trip soon. My 2005 Apple MacBook is close to death. It needs serious healing powers from the Genius gods, but the first available appointment is on Friday. Until then, you won’t be seeing many pictures. I can’t even upload my trip photos.

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