All posts tagged: interview

Conversations with Sarky: The Early Years

This is Part One in a series about Lao American music artist, Sarky Mekmorakoth. Music has always been an integral part of my life. I fell into it escaping from the harsh realities of being a 1st gen immigrant child of refugees: out of place, out of time. I found out just how much power it holds, too. Sometimes the electric charge was filled with feverish euphoria and other times, just an echoing sadness filled by gravity-induced silence, and everywhere in between. Early on, it was my light at the end of the tunnel–the constant melody that sang to me about my worth, filling that primal need for hope within me with hollow, deep, bass-filled down beats. About the only thing that could compare to my love of music and its magic, was my insatiable love of books. If music gave me hope, books and stories showed me what could be waiting if I persevered. In the mid-80s, when I first discovered Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” it became my anthem. I didn’t know …

Interview: Chef James Syhabout and Hawker Fare

It’s taken the Lao community by storm. Hawker Fare: Recipes & Stories from a Refugee Chef’s Thai Isan & Lao Roots was released at the beginning of the year and people are still buzzing. The book was published under Anthony Bourdain’s imprint, a man known for culinary travel shows like No Reservations and Parts Unknown. For a population that’s long been under the shadow of neighbouring Thailand, many are thrilled to see their cuisine brought into the limelight. For the history buffs–northeastern Thailand was once a part of the Kingdom of Laos. So, Isan food/Northeastern Thailand cuisine has roots from Laos. The author is Chef James Syhabout, who says his identity is difficult to box in. “People say I’m Lao and people say I’m Thai. I’m both. Lao American chef? Sure. Thai American chef? Sure, I’m that too. It’s complicated.” James was born in northeast Thailand to a Lao father and a Thai Isan mother. The trio landed in the US in 1981. They made a home in west Oakland, California, forging a community with other …