The Los Angeles Chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association

Year in review: Food panels, Trivia Bowl and V3con

As 2015 comes to a close, we thank all the members, sponsors and friends of AAJA-LA who have made many of the events possible – here’s a recap of a few of the programs we held. AAJA-LA has many exciting events in store for next year and we hope that you will consider renewing your membership (more details at this link). Your membership registration submitted today is good through Dec. 31, 2016.

“Lights! Camera! Food!”

Story by Sherene Tagharobi

The food was to-die-for. The pro tips, priceless. The company, even better.

It’s safe to say AAJA-LA’s special program on plating and food photography was a hit. Attendees traveled from across Los Angeles to Maru, a high-end Sushi house on Wilshire that opened its doors to our first “Lights! Camera! Food!” event for the night of November 19.

Chef Jason Park, who taught himself knife skills watching PBS cooking shows as a kid, generously prepared samplings of mouth-watering dishes such as sashimi of kanpachi, prosciutto and cauliflower salad, curry lamb and much more.

As we dined on these delectable bites, we learned how to make them look as good as they taste from panelists Maria Nguyen and Ryan Tanaka.

After finishing her bachelor’s degree in two years, freelancing and serving as art director for the ZehnerGroup, Nguyen launched The Art of Plating. It started with nothing more than a passion for food and design–and an iPhone. Nguyen now photographs some of the world’s most beautiful plates, traveling and telling the stories behind them to an audience of hundreds of thousands of social media followers.

Tanaka’s career story is also one of passion fueling success. Having studied graphic design at UCLA, he got his start hanging around kitchen restaurants, snapping pictures. Now, a professional food and dining photographer, Tanaka’s clients include publications such as Zagat and Time Out LA as well as individual restaurants.

Both Nguyen and Tanaka taught us the importance of good (preferably natural) light, and they encouraged us to photograph our subjects from as many angles as possible. The pair took questions from those in attendance, and of course, from our very own resident foodie Susan Hirasuna. An AAJA-LA board member and award-winning FOX 11 anchor and reporter, Hirasuna was a wonderful moderator, keeping the conversation going all night.

Whether with their iPhones or professional cameras, attendees learned how to play with food and photography. The biggest challenge of the night? Resisting Chef Park’s delicious, beautiful creations long enough to document them!

AAJA-LA gives a special thanks to Chef Park for graciously donating the space for the event and samples for the group, and to Toyota for sponsoring the program. Thank you to all our panelists, organizers and attendees. This unique event would not have been possible without you.

Trivia Bowl

Photos by Sina Araghi


Story by Connie K. Ho 

From smart phones to Oculus Rift, no topic was untouched or off boundaries for techies and geeks alike to discuss at the V3 Digital Media Conference (V3con) — all for the purpose of determining resolutions in issues such as breaking the bamboo ceiling as well as working through language and culture barriers. The fourth annual conference highlighted conversations of ethnicity and race as well as the power of storytelling and technology in bringing communities together.

The weekend kicked off on Friday with an opening-night reception, with catering by Panda Restaurant Group, Coca-Cola, Kirin and Pop’d Up, as well as a musical performance by Priska, who sang a few of her original songs.

Those in attendance included honorees Dao Nguyen of BuzzFeed, Randall Park of the hit ABC TV show “Fresh Off the Boat” and Joe Zee of Yahoo Style. They were recognized for making a mark in their respective fields, and all three made remarks about their personal journeys in the various areas of entertainment, fashion and online media.

On Saturday, hundreds of attendees arrived to take part in the daylong digital media conference. The schedule consisted of a mix of workshops and panels focused on areas such as podcasting, live streaming with apps like Periscope, blogging, smartphone photography and comics. Professionals from journalism, social media, community organizations and other industries gathered to share their experience and visions with like-minded individuals.