The Deliciously Meaningful Journey of Chef Francis Ang

By: Robert McKeown  

With its unique blend of the sensual and social, food culture is one of our richest sites of modern meaning-making. Taking inspiration from linguist Mikhail Bakhtin’s chronotope – a common space for comparison - this paper will examine and analyze acts of creation/consumption as sites of multicultural culinary "worlding." The goal is to illustrate how cooking experiences are informed by the physical environments and people around us, while investigating identity as an active process involving memory, interpretation, and action. Re-applying theories of the senses, art, and sociology, this paper will question how the spaces we inhabit shape the way we communicate, understand, and engage with food culture. I will examine the transnational ‘worlds’ that have shaped the journey of Chef Francis Ang (of Filipino cuisine pop-up Pinoy Heritage) in the San Francisco food scene. I will investigate how Ang brings these into being with performative “acts” of cooking. I will also explore the personal networks of taste that define him, including Asian/cook-communities; family history/migration; kitchen labor; nostalgia; and travel. Chefs are translators of place, space, and experience, summoning "worlds" to life with their edibles. Capturing this phenomenon, Daniel Goh’s concept of ‘Worlding’ (2014) will be deployed as a way to illuminate “practices that infuse our arbitrary cultural lives with new things from other cultures in poetic ways to enable us to dwell and be at home with the complexity of the world.” The research will be carried out through structured interviews, content and menu analysis, and ethnographic writing.

Food, Culture, Asia
Food, Politics, and Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Robert McKeown

Robert McKeown has worked across all aspects of the food, media, hospitality, and design industries. A former correspondent and editor-at-large for titles such as Gourmet (USA), Wallpaper* (UK), and Gourmet Traveller (Australia), he’s been nominated as World’s Best Food Journalist and won many global awards. As a creative director, designer, researcher he’s worked on hospitality projects in dozens of countries, including Singapore’s Fullerton Bay concepts for chefs like Zak Pellaccio and Jean-Georges Vongerichten; designers such as Adam Tihany and Shigeru Ban; and the development of Hong Kong brasserie Lily + BLOOM, which he co-owns. He regularly lectures in forums such as World Summit for Peace Through Tourism and the Oxford Food Symposium, and splits his time between Southeast Asia and Canada, where he is a graduate fellow at Concordia University.