How the Department of Commerce wants to highlight cultural diversity and promote small biz - Generocity Philly

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May 18, 2016 8:26 am

How the Department of Commerce wants to highlight cultural diversity and promote small biz

Explore the world's cultures and cuisines right here at home, starting with Southeast Asia.

We can hear your stomach grumbling from here.

(Photo by Flickr user Jessica and Lon Binder, used under a Creative Commons license)

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story included quotes that were inaccurately attributed to a person who was not interviewed for this story. We apologize for the error. Edited 5/18 @ 11:20 a.m.
When Samuel Chueh, a business services manager with the city’s Department of Commerce, met a Malaysian restaurant owner at a recent small business event, she asked him how the city can help promote businesses owned by Southeast Asian immigrants and refugees.

Local restaurant owners hailing from Southeast Asian countries feel their respective cuisines are too-often lumped in with the Chinese and Korean foods many Americans are familiar with, Chueh said. Yet, the Malaysian restaurant needs to import the expensive herbs and spices their dishes require. An Indonesian restaurant makes noodles by hand every day.

Commerce wants to recognize the diversity of Southeast Asian food available in Philly in a pilot series starting June 30 at UnitedHealthcare Multicultural Center with an event highlighting three businesses from three different Southeast Asian cultures: Cambodian, Malaysian and Indonesian.

This event will demo dishes from the three restaurants, supplemented with performances from the three heritages, Chueh said. It’s an event series model he hopes to scale across the city’s ethnic neighborhoods.

“You can explore the world here and you don’t have to buy a flight ticket,” he said.

The department is hoping attendees will come ready to learn.

“We have so much diversity here,” said Chueh, who just became a U.S. citizen last year. “I feel proud to say Philadelphia is my second home, and I hope more people can say that.”

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