Taiwanese Cooking: Cultural Exchange Cooking Demonstration

By Nami Nagaoka

An international cuisine demonstration was held at the Youngstown State University Christman Dining Hall on Sept. 2. YSU invited two internationally celebrated chefs to present a popular Taiwanese dish, cashew chicken.

Tony Huang, an associate professor at Hsing Wu University in Taiwan, and his assistant, Amo Liang, prepared the dish.

The cultural cooking demonstration began with a short introduction of Taiwanese history including the relationship between Taiwan, China and Japan.

Florence Wang, a senior advisor of Asian Market at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, said she invited the two chefs to YSU.

Wang said these types of cultural exchange programs and events hosted through her organization typically engage in larger cities such as New York, Chicago and San Francisco.

Beginning last year, Wang’s organization expanded the program to other cities.

“This is the first year that YSU and the community council have collaborated to bring a cultural exchange event in Youngtown,” she said.

The two chefs visited the then Mahoning County Career and Technical Center last year and they planned to hold the event with YSU’s hospitality management program.

Mark Zetts, hospitality management program coordinator, said this event intended to encourage student exchange between American and Taiwanese students at YSU in the hospitality program.

Wang said she hopes to work with YSU corporate sponsors through events such as this cultural exchange demonstration in the future.

She also said there are other key individuals who plan to pull together scholarships that will bring Taiwanese students into YSU’s hospitality program.

Josh Cryder, sophomore criminal justice major, said the cashew chicken was different than the food he was use to, but liked the Americanized Taiwanese fried rice. He said this was his first time trying real Taiwanese food.

An-Yun Cheng, junior education major from Taiwan, said the food was similar to authentic Taiwanese food.

“It is very good and I really like it,” she said.

Cheng said the taste of cashew chicken differs depending on the region in Taiwan or family recipe.

Liz Rubino, a YSU alum, attended the demonstration and tasted the food.

Rubino said she used to work at a family-owned Asian restaurant in Austintown and was familiar with Taiwanese cuisine.

“It was fantastic,” she said. “[Cultural exchange] is crucial for change in the world,” she said.