This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center ( will launch the “Rising Chefs Series,” the nonprofit organization’s first-ever pop-up series concept in Downtown Los Angeles.

The dynamic experience will bring together four emerging Asian American chefs in a four-week celebration of food, culture and the spirit of innovation. Taking place in JACCC’s Toshizo Watanabe Culinary Cultural Center (TWCCC), the series will feature innovative restaurant concepts inspired by the blended Asian American identities and experiences of Chefs David Nguyen, Kevin Lee, Tway Nguyen, and Chris Ono.

Each week will introduce a new immersive dinner experience including a five-course pre-fixe menu inspired by each chef’s cultural heritage, signature House of Suntory cocktail pairing, Japanese garden lounge area, and more.

“This is an incredibly exciting moment for JACCC, as we open our doors to the Toshizo Watanabe Culinary Center for such a joyous celebration of food, innovation, and community,” says Jane Matsumoto, JACCC’s Culinary Cultural Arts Program director. “We hope for our entire community to come out as we bring the culinary ambitions of Chefs David, Kevin, Tway, and Chris to life.”

Week 1 of the series (May 3-4) will feature a restaurant concept by David Nguyen, a French Laundry and Club 33 trained chef and first-generation Vietnamese American born in Palawan, Philippines. Nguyen’s menu features flavors from his childhood in Vietnam and his upbringing in the U.S.

Week 2 (May 10-11) will feature a restaurant concept by Kevin Lee, a trained Korean American chef who specializes in French and Italian cuisine, with prior experiences at several Michelin-star restaurants. Lee’s menu reflects his formal training in Italian and French cuisine, seasoned with flavors from his Korean roots.

Week 3 (May 17-18) will feature a restaurant concept by Tway Nguyen, a Vietnamese-born chef and one of the fastest-rising stars in the culinary space. Whether it’s at her sold out pop-ups across the U.S. or on her hit People Magazine series “Celeb Eats,” her goal is to connect with people through food. Nguyen’s menu is an ode to traditional Vietnamese comfort foods, elevated through innovative flavors and pairings.

Week 4 (May 24-25) will feature a menu by Chris Ono, JACCC’s newly appointed chef-in-residence, whose culinary training comes from Michelin starred restaurants, Providence, Eleven Madison Park and Mori sushi. Ono is a fourth-generation Japanese American creating dishes evocative of both his French and Japanese training and JA heritage. He will focus on seasonal ingredients using the freshest locally sourced fish, vegetables and meats.

All proceeds from the event will be donated to fund culinary innovation and entrepreneurship, including support for TWCCC’s Culinary Arts Program, which empowers aspiring chefs with a space to share their stories, techniques, and innovations.

Tickets for the pop-up – open Tuesday and Wednesday for the month of May – will be available for purchase at for $180 starting April 21. Seatings are available each night at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

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