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English House Cafe celebrated the Lunar New Year with decorations, Asian recipes, and performances.

Credit: Eason Zhao

To celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year, Penn Dining invited the Sang Kee Duck House General Manager and 2010 College graduate Henry Chow to speak about his career at Kings Court English College House.

Chow hosted a 40-minute question and answer session in which he talked about cooking, his time as a student at Penn, and his professional career. Chow shared his experience exploring different career paths in consulting, Uber Eats, and finally, the family-owned restaurant Sang Kee Duck House. Chinese lion dance troupe Penn Lions, which Chow founded in 2007, also performed at the event.

The Lunar New Year celebration is part of the Penn Cooks program, an initiative started in September 2019 by Penn Dining to celebrate Penn's diverse student body and feature cuisines and chefs from different cultural backgrounds. The dinner menu featured recipes from Asian-origin cookbook Vietnamese Food Any Day: Simple Recipes for True, Fresh Flavors written by Andrea Nguyen, said Barbara Lea-Kruger, Penn's business services director of communications and external relations.

“We wanted to integrate and celebrate the diversity of our campus, and the best way that we knew how to do that was really through food,” Pam Lampitt, director of business services and hospitality services, said. 

Lampitt added that Penn Cooks created an "umbrella of opportunities" for Penn Dining to bring authentic and diverse foods to students.

Chow also talked about his transition from the operation manager at Uber Eats to an employee at his family's restaurant.

“[My parents said], ‘come help us out, but we are gonna treat you like one of our sixteen-year-old busboys and you have to learn everything from the ground up again," Chow said.

Credit: Eason Zhao

The Penn Lions, founded by Chow, performed at all dining halls.

While Chow’s cuisine was not featured on the menu at the event, he believed that he could offer more valuable insight to Penn students by talking about how he navigated different careers after graduating from Penn.

“I think my perspective is more of a Penn student who graduated,” Chow said, “I loved every minute of my experience here at Penn and I felt like I got the most out of it. And ten years later, I only hope I can be some sort of benefit back to the school. I don’t know about a better way than talking about my life and the decisions I made.”

As part of the Lunar Year Celebrations, 1920 Commons also featured recipes from the I am a Filipino: and This is How We Cook cookbook written by Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad.

In December 2019, Penn Cooks program invited 1997 College graduate and actress Jordan Zucker to showcase her recipes from One Dish – Four Seasons: Food, Wine, and Sound – All Year Round at Hill College House.

Wharton first-year Dhruv Gomber said that the lion dance brought an interactive element to the event and he thought the event was a great way to celebrate the lunar new year.

“Hearing the general manager of Sang Kee speaking about his experiences at Penn, starting Penn Lions, and seeing that transition into how he is doing at his job is really cool,” Gomber said.

“It is obviously nice that Penn Dining is recognizing Lunar New Year,” Wharton and College first-year Joshua Yang said. “The speaker had a pretty extraordinary story. It was really nice to be able to listen to some of his advice.”

Chow urged students to take advantage of opportunities and not be afraid to try new things.

“I would say that no matter what you do, be open-minded and take risks while you’re young,” Chow said.