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America has often been described as a melting pot, a crucible in which different cultures have been fused together; this metaphor for assimilation though no longer best describes the American mosaic where all the different pieces add up to a larger whole though still retain their respective identities. Yes out of many we are one, but still it's our diversity that strengthens, rather than divides, us by providing an ongoing opportunity to continually learn from one another's differences.
Food has always been a gateway to learn about another culture. A culture's cuisine reveals a lot about that culture’s history, politics, identity, and community as well as too often its commercialization. Thus maybe a more apropos metaphor for America is a stew pot rather than a melting one: a bouillabaisse, cioppino, mariscos, jjigae, suki or some other dish reflecting the diversity of those who've relocated to this country. In such a stew, the flavors of all the ingredients can be savored separately, but still taste better together in the shared broth of first the collective pot and then every individual’s bowl.
Los Angeles is one of this country's most flavorful stew pots. This diversity is one of the city and region's greatest strengths especially from a culinary perspective. In Los Angeles, you can pretend you're Anthony Bourdain without having to renew your passport, as you travel through all of the region’s different ethnic enclaves.
Born in San Gabriel Valley and raised in the restaurant and grocery stores of his parents in Los Angeles's Thai Town, Chef Jet Tila's youth was spent eating his way through these different ethnic neighborhoods honing his palate for what would ultimately be parleyed into the national spotlight in Las Vegas at Steve Wynn's Encore Hotel & Casino's restaurant Wazuzu.
Wazuzu, with its Pan Asian menu, was in large part a reflection of this time Jet spent eating or cooking in areas of Los Angeles like Little Tokyo, the 626, Chinatown, Thai town and Korea Town. Like Wazuzu, Chef Tila's more recent endeavors continue to reflect Jet's roots. These endeavors (including those with the Compass Group, Schwans and a soon to debut dessert concept) also demonstrate his business acumen as he expands both his business and personal brands across the country via these outlets, retail sales, and various media appearances.
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