(Photo: NYC Media)
This week’s episode of “Native Dish” (airing Thursday 12/07/2017 at 9:56pm EST, on NYClife, Channel 25) features Jeannie Sisongkham Ongkeo. Not a native New Yorker with access to that channel? Don’t worry, you can also see her in action on their YouTube channel:
So, what is “Native Dish” and who is Jeannie (Sisongkhone) Ongkeo?
“Native Dish is an interstitial series celebrating New York City immigrants from all over the world by exploring their authentic cuisines one dish at a time.” It airs on the City of New York’s Official TV Network, NYClife Channel 25, at 26 and 56 minutes after the hour.
The makeup of the show is simple. There are no hosts and no foodie stars. Just NYC Immigrants featuring: their food, their culture, using their own words.
NYC has long been a mecca for diversity—in people, food, flavors, music, language, culture, and yes, even politics. The saying, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” only glances at the surface of the city. What you must deduct is—it’s hard, and there’s a reason why visitors seem to think New Yorkers are abrupt, aggressive, and heartless. Consider that the most successful mayor in its history was an Independent named Michael Bloomberg, and you can finally understand how the heart of this city beats. Because, yes, it has a whole lot of heart. A heart made up of it’s millions of immigrants and all the learning, passion, knowledge, culture, food, and what baggage (I’m guessing not much physically) they might have brought with them.
Jeannie (Sisongkhone) Ongkeo, is just one of the immigrants that came here carrying not much physically. She is a fellow Lao immigrant and refugee who came to America in the mid-1970s during the war. She then, for many years, helped her brother run a successful Lao/Thai fusion restaurant in the Tribeca neighborhood. Throughout everything, she never forgot her Buddhist roots. She remains an active member of her temple, Wat Buddha Thai Thavorn Vanaram in Elmhurst, Queens, participating in Tak Bat almsgiving and feeding the resident monks there.
So “Native Dish: United Flavors of NYC” brings the faces and families behind New York’s international cuisine to viewers to offer a glimpse into the lives of its natives. Maybe finally, folks can see just how fast a New Yorker’s heart beats—and, more importantly, feel its erratic rhythm.
You can check out new episodes every week at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0nMJ4Uk-7eqW7sVPpssmTw
Special thanks to Andrew Guidone, a producer on “Native Dish” for giving us the heads up on Jeannie and her continued services to society.
You may have seen Jeannie covered in our Lao Diaspora Project photo exhibit here. Check out our interview with another NYC Chef Phet here.