Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America

March 26, 2017 - September 10, 2017

The Museum of Chinese in America is pleased to announce that due to popular demand, Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America which was previously scheduled to close on March 26, 2017 has been extended through September 10, 2017.


Join us for conversations around a dinner table with 33 Chinese and Asian American chefs. Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy weaves together complex stories through a dynamic video installation featuring pioneering chefs such as Cecilia Chiang, Ken Hom, Anita Lo, Ming Tsai, and Martin Yan; new restaurateurs like Peter Chang, Vivian Ku, and Danny Bowien; and persevering home cooks like Biying Ni, Yvette Lee and Ho-chin Yang.


In Chinese the saying Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy refers not only to the delicate balance of flavors that defines Chinese cooking but also the ups and downs of life. Set in an immersive video installation, the tapestry of tales that emerges will be rich with immigration experiences, food memories, favorite dishes and cooking inspirations that define the culinary—and personal—identities of these chefs, drawing visitors into the middle of a conversation about how food defines Chinese in America. In the center of the gallery will be a monumental dinner table, with each chef represented by personally selected artifacts from their kitchens and place settings featuring unique ceramic vessels that will link cooking styles to regional culinary traditions.


Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy is an imaginary banquet in which featured guests represent diverse histories, cuisines, and geographic regions. By understanding these elements, we can start to identify what Annie Hauck-Lawson and Jonathan Deutsch might call a “food voice” for Chinese in America. They write: “The concept of the food voice means that what people choose to procure, prepare, and eat—and what they do not eat—can reveal much about their identity and culture. Often, the food voice expresses what the spoken voice struggles to articulate.”


What does Chinese food in America, in its dizzying variety, say about who we are—or are not— today?




Featured Chefs:

Danny Bowien
(New York, NY)
Vivian Ku
(Los Angeles, CA)
Ming Tsai
(Wellesley, MA)

Peter Chang
(Rockville, MD)


Yvette Lee
(Honolulu, HI)
Jason Wang
(New York, NY)
Nancy Chen
(Naperville, IL)
Leonard Liao
(Jackson Heights, NY)
Doron Wong
(New York, NY)
Chris Cheung
(Brooklyn, NY)
Anita Lo
(New York, NY)
Frank and Tommy Wong
(Mandeville, LA)
George Chew
(New York, NY)
Biying Ni
(New York, NY)
Jonathan Wu
(New York, NY)
Cecilia Chiang
(Los Angeles, CA)
Doniyar Sobitov
(Brooklyn, NY)
Cori Xiong and Heng Chen
(Houston, TX)
Philip Chiang
(Los Angeles, CA)
Cara Stadler
(Portland, ME)
Martin Yan
(San Mateo, CA)


Sally and Gilroy Chow
(Clarksdale, MS)
Wilson Tang
(New York, NY)

Ho-chin Yang
(Alhambra, CA)

Susanna Foo
(Radnor, PA)
Yvonne and Mike Thompson
(Pounding Mill, VA)
Chris Yeo
(San Jose, CA)
Jeff Gao
(Boulder, CO)
Kimmie Lee Tie
(Raleigh, NC)
Grace Young
(New York, NY)
Ken Hom, OBE
(Bangkok, Paris, Rio de Janeiro)
Michael Tong
(New York, NY)
Wenbin Yuan
(Brookfield, WI)

Featuring Ceramics by Heidi Lau and Lu Zhang.


Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America is curated by Audra Ang, Kian Lam Kho, Andrew Rebatta, and Herb Tam



View the press release here. 


Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America is made possible with the generous support of S. H. Ho Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The opening reception is sponsored by Resorts World Casino New York City. Additional support is provided by SupChina and Con Edison.