On Tuesday, October 25, “The Migrant Kitchen” will premiere on KCET in Southern California and on Link TV nationwide, showing viewers how strongly Los Angeles’ food scene has been shaped by the immigrant experience. Currently, segments of the show are available on KCET’s website.
Over a third of the residents in Los Angeles County are immigrants, amounting to more than 3.4 million immigrants in the county. Immigrants and their children constitute 53 percent of the county’s population. Los Angeles is the city with the largest restaurant industry in the country. If you are dining out in Los Angeles, you are consuming food that is prepped and cooked by people who have left their countries of origin to find more opportunities in the United States.
People who enjoy dining out may not realize that they have an interest in the current immigration debate that is unfolding in the public discourse. Last year chef and traveling TV host Anthony Bourdain predicted that if GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump had his way and America’s 11 million undocumented immigrants were deported, “every restaurant in America would shut down.” This may be an extreme statement; it’s important to note that not all immigrants who are working in U.S. restaurants are unauthorized. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that out of the 12.7 million employees in restaurants in the country that 1.4 million are immigrants. “The Migrant Kitchen” breaks down these statistics about immigration and the restaurant industry to a human level, instead of generalizing a heated rhetoric about border walls and banning entire ethnicities.
“The Migrant Kitchen” viewers will see inside some of the most influential kitchens in Los Angeles that have impacted the local dining scene. The chefs and food influencers featured in the show include Michael Cimarusti of Providence and Connie and Ted’s, Alvin Cailan of Eggslut and Unit 120, Chad and Chase Valencia of LASA, Adelle Yellin of the Yellin Company, which owns the Grand Central Market, Jung Ye Jun and Jeff Jun of Jun Won, and Charles Olalia of Rice Bar. From fine dining to casual eateries, viewers get to learn firsthand how the migrant experience has shaped one of the largest dining meccas in the world.
In addition to highlighting the experiences of immigrants who have risen in the Los Angeles food scene, “The Migrant Kitchen” features some second-generation chefs and entrepreneurs who are building upon the foundations that their parents established in the local food industry. With degrees and formal culinary school training, the children of immigrants in Los Angeles are finding their way into the restaurant industry through food trucks and pop-ups, preserving traditional dishes from their parents’ and grandparents’ eateries and fusing them with new flavors.
For more information on “The Migrant Kitchen,” click here.