A Chinese New Year Feast in Sonoma, CA

Chinese New Year Banquet

Chinese New Year Banquet

For the past twelve years the Lew family has celebrated Chinese New Year by working non-stop to prepare a feast fit for an Emperor. This feast, is auctioned off at the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction, and the proceeds go to Sonoma Valley charities.

This is Lance Lew's story:

"My family arrived in 1941 to Petaluma, California, a predominately white community and built a large grocery store and later opened a restaurant. 

Petaluma Grocery Store in the 1940's

Our families revolved around the store like a small village, sharing and retaining all things good about being Chinese and especially celebrating Chinese New Year with all the celebratory foods and customs. 

But my grandmother encouraged all to assimilate to the community and never forget our heritage.

As an adult, I created this dinner to help the community, share our heritage and give tribute to my family to overcome obstacles of an ethnically owned business at a time when our Japanese friends were interned in camps."

The traditional dinner to celebrate the Year of the Ox was auctioned off in the Fall of 2008 for $8,000. Over the last twelve years, $120,000 have been raised to benefit 10 Sonoma Valley charities.

Chinese Kitchen God
According to Chinese belief, if you consume foods that represent good fortune and good luck, you will be blessed with prosperity and luck in the coming year.

Customs dictates that we share our heritage with traditional foods, which bridge the past with the future and strengthen friendships & family ties.

Tsao-Wang the Chinese Kitchen God will be perched above the kitchen sink in the Lew's kitchen, as Lance, his family and a group of friends craft this traditional feast to reflect a real sense of Chinese culture and Sonoma County's bountiful harvest for one lucky and generous family and their friends.

The Lew Family Chinese New Year Feast
Chinese New Year Food - Amuse Bouche
1. Amuse Bouche: The first course represents both birth & longevity.  A savory duck egg crème brulee topped with minced braised shitake mushrooms.

The egg represents the greatest gift, male progeny: sons are essential to bring happiness and continuation of the family name.  Longevity is represented by the mushroom.
Chinese New Year Food - Clouds in the Southern Mountain2. Clouds in the Southern Mountain: Our family’s signature dish created by our matriarch, Martha Hing.  Her Chinese name is Woon, meaning "clouds" which are often depicted in traditional Chinese watercolor paintings. 

Savory Baby Back Pork Spareribs braised with Benziger Family Winery Port with fermented red & white vinegar soybean paste.
Chinese New Year Food - Good Life New Year Chicken
3. Good Life New Year Chicken : The honored New Year Chicken like the Venerable Thanksgiving Turkey, represents "A good life."

Chilled Rocky Free Range poached chicken served with minced garlic, ginger, shallots, scallions & cilantro oil & salt confetti.
Chinese New Year Food - Happines as a Quail
4. Happiness as a Quail: The well-dressed Quail with their feather chapeau adds to the Sonoma countryside neighborhood.
Crisp fried Quail with Benziger Family Port poached Mission black figs and dried persimmon sauce.

Chinese New Year Food - Scallops, Long and Plentiful Life
5. A Long & Plentiful Life: All Imperial feasts feature elements from the sky, the sea and the land. The Chinese homonym for sea scallops has a double meaning for "plentiful."

Sea scallops served with caramelized white corn, lemon grass, Thai curry coconut milk sauce garnished with fried basil.
Chinese New Year Food - Intermezzo
Intermezzo: Tangerines represent good fortune and are displayed on top of orange pyramids displays and accompany all gifts to double the luck.

Tangerine, red grapefruit & cucumber granita.

Chinese New Year Food - Gold and Jade Beef6. Gold and Jade Beef: The riches of gold and jade are represented by the Chinese broccoli and candied kumquats. 

Sonoma county filet mignon dusted with water chestnut powder with a Shaoxing wine reduction sauce.
Chinese New Year Food - Pork, Growing Wealth7. An Auspicious Occasion for Growing Wealth: The Chinese word for lettuce is a homonym for "growing wealth".

To ensure prosperity, it is coupled with minced pork infused with dried oysters, another homonym for good fortune.
Chinese New Year Food - Eight Element Duck8. Eight Element Duck: The number eight represents prosperity.

Crispy Petaluma Liberty duck confit infused with five-spice powder, ginger, orange peel accompany Benziger Family Winery Muscat Canelli poached pears.
Chinese New Year Food - Imperial Rice9. Imperial Rice: The stickiness of the rice and ingredients represent the ‘togetherness’ of family and friends.

Steamed sweet rice tossed with dried shrimp, Chinese sweet sausage & shitake mushrooms.
Chinese New Year Food - Dessert, Ginger Ice Cream10. Dessert: Miniature cones filled with homemade candied ginger and green tea ice cream, miniature sugar cookies & marzipan ram.

All photographs on this page courtesy of Lance Lew.

Learn more about the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction

Comments for A Chinese New Year Feast in Sonoma, CA

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Feb 19, 2010
Chinese New Year Feast - WOW!
by: Sandy Skoop

Wow! Now that certainly looks like an amazing Chinese feast! Wish I was invited too. I'll definitely be making a special trip to Sonoma soon, I'm always on the look-out for good Chinese food.

Jan 26, 2009
Lance Lew is ilLEWminating
by: Lina Broydo

Mr. Lew's Chinese New Year Feast is truly OXtraordinary.
One big problem - I was not invited... but there is always hope for next year
Gung Hay Fat Choy!

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