In the past year support from minorities has risen on a social scale as much as on a political scale. Fashion has been at the forefront of this being one of the most visible industries in the commercial market and has been involved with all kinds of charitable efforts to enhance our global community. Charities involving community building, food resourcing, and the conservation of natural land.

In support of charitable causes, the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community came together to support one another. AAPI fashion designers and personalities attended A Taste of Asia curated by COTE Korean Steakhouse. Along with over 700 other guests, the night raised money for Apex for Youth, City Harvest, and Madison Square Park Conservancy.

A Taste of America was a night for indulging in dozens of the finest hand-selected restaurants, tasting Asian-inspired dishes that honored the resilience and vitality of the AAPI community, cuisine, and global Asian culture. Taking place in the historic open-air Madison Square Park, public land since 1686, guests like Prabal Gurung of his namesake fashion line, and one of the prominent fashion designers who was involved in charitable efforts from the start of the pandemic, got to try the many delights of NYC Asian restaurants. During the pandemic, Gurung and his team pivoted his production to make masks for essential workers, one of the first-responders to the PPE shortage.

40 Asian NYC restaurants collaborated to raise over $1.1 million for the Apex for Youth, City Harvest, and Madison Square Park Conservancy. The event shadowed the recent rise in hate crimes against AAPI as the COVID pandemic consumed the public in cities across the United States. Even after global communities came together against racist policing, A Taste of Asia was a display of companionship through food and part of a journey to eradicating the systemic hate experienced in America.

Simon Kim, a restaurateur, founder of Michelin-starred COTE Korean Steakhouse, associate board member, and co-chair and host, described the curated night as one of healing. “When there was a rise of anti-Asian hate crimes this past year, not only was this a physical threat but it also threatened the American dream. Then it’s no longer about just the AAPI community, it’s about everyone who believes in that dream— it’s about eradicating hate with love and delicious food.”

Notable fashion personas in attendance also included co-chair Phillip Lim, co-hosts and new foodie, Jason Wu, and fashion journalist Sophia Li, 1/2 host of All of The Above TV, a member, and facilitator at the sustainable fashion non-profit Slow Factory Open Edu. Laura Kim, co-creative director of Oscar de la Renta, and Gemma Chan, actress, and L’Oreal global ambassador, were other co-hosts of A Taste of Asia who came to taste, celebrate and dance to tunes by fashion model and DJ, Mona Matsuoka.

Foodie icon and New Yorker Eddie Huang, featured in Aime Leon Dore’s FW 2021 campaign in a pinstripe suit, parka, and skull cap, showed up to enjoy the tasting and support the causes. Award-winning journalist Lisa Ling, who was featured in Gap’s 2013 “Love” campaign, and  also attended in support of the Apex for Youth, City Harvest, and Madison Square Park Conservancy and helped raised over a million dollars in donations, among world-class chefs, like David Shim of COTE, and APPI personalities from New York and around the world. 

Co-chair Simon Kim shared his view of the evening and his hope for change around these conversations and causes. “I’m a proud New Yorker, the diversity is what keeps me here, and the American dream is what made me come here in the first place,” Kim concludes of the night to honor the diversity and vibrance of AAPI culture and cuisine in New York City.