Dinner Around the World
Angela Dimayuga, executive chef of acclaimed restaurant Mission Chinese Food, has teamed up with the League of Kitchens chefs to create a truly global dining experience for the 2017 Creative Time Gala. Inspired by the 11 nationalities of the League of Kitchens chefs and her own background, Angela has harmonized a dozen cuisines into one unified meal. Angela and the League of Kitchens chefs are also making their recipes available for anyone to try at home.
About Angela Dimayuga
Creative Director, Dining Experience, Gala 2017
Executive Chef, Mission Chinese
When she was 10 years old, San Jose native Angela Dimayuga knew at least one thing: She had to be a chef when she grew up. Throughout high school Dimayuga volunteered in a cafeteria. In college she continued her informal education, working various front- and back-of-house jobs to help pay the bills. Meanwhile, she earned a degree in humanities.
Eventually Dimayuga made her way to New York City, where she worked as a cook and a baker in a small cafe. Noticing her persistence and talent, the owner of that cafe encouraged Dimayuga to pursue a career in restaurants and even allowed her to use the cafe’s kitchen to get Dimayuga’s catering project off the ground.
When Vinegar Hill House opened in 2009, Dimayuga joined the kitchen under Chef Jean Adamson, whom she counts among her chief mentors. During her time there, Dimayuga worked with cooks who would go on to open The Meat Hook, Rockaway Taco, and Hartwood in Tulum, Mexico. It was a stellar band of cooks who pushed and inspired Dimayuga to grow.
Next, she joined the crew at Danny Bowien’s Mission Chinese Food as sous chef, and was quickly promoted to chef de cuisine. After the Orchard Street location closed, Dimayuga was at the heart of launching the East Broadway Mission Chinese Food, where she now runs the kitchen (and the whole show) as executive chef, pulling inspiration from her Filipino roots to influence the restaurant’s punk-Szechuan cuisine.
About League of Kitchens
In recent years, New York City has experienced the largest wave of immigration since the turn of the century. 37% of the city’s population is foreign born, and the percentage is even higher in Queens–46%. Today Queens is the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world with residents from over 100 different countries who speak over 138 different languages. And yet, there is often very little meaningful interaction between immigrant groups, or between immigrants and non-immigrants.
The League of Kitchens shifts this conventional dynamic.
The League of Kitchens is a unique cooking school in NYC where immigrants teach intimate cooking workshops in their homes, and participants encounter a new culture, cuisine, and neighborhood with every experience. Each experience offers opportunities for meaningful connection and social interaction, cultural engagement and exchange, culinary learning and discovery, and exceptional eating and drinking. Through this experience, the League of Kitchens seeks to build cross-cultural connection and understanding, to increase access to traditional cooking knowledge, and to provide meaningful, well-paid employment and training for immigrants.
In the League of Kitchens the immigrant is the expert, the teacher, the host, and the cultural ambassador. This is not a service experience. Everyone cooks together, eats together, and cleans up together. Everyone contributes to the conversation and shares their own stories and expertise. And there’s no better way to get to know a person and their culture than by cooking and eating with them in their home.
League of Kitchens Chefs
Rachana was born in Kathmandu – capital of Nepal – a country that shares borders (and culinary traditions) with China and India. Rachana loves to share her food and her Nepalese heritage through the League of Kitchens as well as through Eat Offbeat, a catering company where she works as a chef. Rachana came to the US in 2006.
Dolly grew up in Trinidad, then lived in Canada before settling in South Ozone Park, Queens with her husband and four of their five children. Dolly loves to spend time in her backyard garden growing Trinidadian herbs and peppers to achieve the freshest flavor in her dishes. Dolly is known for making the most delicious food in the neighborhood. Dolly came to the US in 1994.
Aiko was born in Kagawa, a Japanese prefecture near Osaka. When cooking any cuisine, she follows certain Japanese principles like mottainai (avoiding waste), and ichiju sansai (literally “one soup three dishes” or a balanced approach to menu planning). After moving to the U.S. in 1979, AIko was very busy with work, but now she finally has time for her main passion: cooking and sharing her food.
Mirta was born in Mendoza, Argentina, known for its wines and landscapes. She grew up learning to cook from her grandmother, her Argentinian mother and Italian father. Mirta has her own line of artisanal membrillo (quince paste and jelly) and Argentinian sweets that she makes and distributes to restaurants and shops in the tri-state area. Mirta moved to the US in 1975 and now lives in NYC with her daughter.
Angie hails from Monterrey, near the Mexico/US border. After moving to NYC, Angie married a man from Puebla – a state with a rich and varied culinary culture – and started learning his native cuisine from her mother-in-law and six sisters-in-law. Angie is passionate about preserving Mexican tradition, as is her husband Ramon, who leads the acclaimed Mariachi group Mariachi Real De Mexico and founded the Mariachi Academy of New York. Angie came to the US in 1999.
Despina is passionate about using the freshest ingredients in her cooking. She was inspired by the fig, pear, and pomegranate trees that grew in her childhood backyard, and access to the freshest fish in her coastal hometown of Chalkis, Greece. Despina’s love of home cooking has rubbed off on her older daughter, who started Boubouki, a Greek food stand at the Essex Street Market. Despina came to the US in 1972.
Afsari was born in the town of Rajshahi in Bangladesh, where she grew up watching her mother cook. In Bangladesh, Afsari worked as a merchandiser in the garment industry. Afsari now works in the garment business in Manhattan and also caters and teaches classes at ROC-NY, a nonprofit culinary organization. Afsari came to the US in 2000.
Nawida was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and grew up watching her mother and grandmother cook for the family. After she got married, Nawida moved into her mother-in-law’s home in Pakistan and was responsible for cooking three elaborate meals a day for a household of thirty-five people. Nawida moved to the U.S. from Russia in 2010 with her ten year-old son.
Born and raised in Mumbai, Yamini started cooking with her parents when she was ten years old. She’d watch her father cook for the large religious festivals her family attended, as the women weren’t allowed to cook for them. Yamini works in Manhattan at a jewelry company and she also caters events around the city. She moved to Kew Gardens, Queens with her husband and three daughters in 1999.
Damira is originally from Samarkand, which she refers to as “the historic crossroads of East and West.” While in Uzbekistan, Damira was a doctor until her country’s mandatory retirement age of 55. Damira and her husband moved to America in 2013 to be closer to their children, and to do something new—Damira believes it’s always important to try new things and to have many life experiences.
Jeannette grew up in the Lebanese city of Zahle. As a teenager, she became interested in cooking and learned to make tabbouleh from her aunts, a recipe she has painstakingly perfected over time. Formerly an elementary school French teacher, Jeannette now lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with her husband and three children, where she is an active member of her church and local community, and a caterer of small parties and events. Jeanette came to the US in 2006.