By Gerrye Wong  August  21,  2019


A fascinating story about a Chinese chef who might have changed the history of Yosemite caught my attention recently that I’d like to share with you readers.  It all started when I met Bill and Arlene Chang who had just returned from a hiking excursion to Yosemite combined with what they called a pilgrimage to honor a Chinese pioneer named Tie Sing.  This captured my Chinese American history buff ear, of course, and thus made contact with the Pilgrimage Leader, Jack Shu, who whetted my curiosity of who was Tie Sing and why was a mountain peak in Yosemite named after him – Sing Peak!

Back country chef Tie Sing had Yosemite mountain named after him.

Southern Californian Jack Shu founded the YOSEMITE SING PEAK PILGRIMAGE in 2013 in collaboration with the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California (CHSSCO) and the National Park Service. Shu, a retired California State Park superintendent and ranger, started the group and when asked how the idea started, he said, “The pilgrimage, over the years, has been to learn more about Chinese American history in the Sierra Nevada and ultimately change the parks programs leading to a better public knowledge and understanding about the diverse population’s involvement in the history of the region.”  For the past 7 years in July, outdoor and history enthusiasts of this Sing Peak Pilgrimage learn and celebrate the contributions Chinese Americans made to the founding  and development of both Yosemite National Park and the Park Service itself.

Coming from all sections of the country were historians desiring to honor the legacy of Tie Sing.

During pot luck gatherings, lectures and tours, the group, under Shu’s tutelage, learn of how the Chinese cleared and built Tioga Road, one of the earliest and highest in Yosemite, reaching nearly 10,000 feet in elevation. The multi-day event culminates with a hike up to Sing Peak led by Jack Shu and Park Service Ranger Yenyen Chan, in honor of Tie Sing, the retired backcountry chef who was instrumental to the founding of the Park Service.


Scott Carpenter, Program manager for Cultural Resources Management and Science Division at Yosemite National Park with Yenyen Chan talking to group about the historic road of Mariposa Grove originally built by Chinese laborers.

I’m sure you’re wondering by now, who was Tai Sing. It seems that while growing up exploring the mountains in his native home state of Nevada, he faced discrimination finding work and eventually became a cook preparing elaborate and innovative meals for mapmakers exploring California wilderness. Ultimately he became the head chef for the U.S. Geological Survey where he worked for 28 years. Earning a respected reputation as a backcountry chef, in 1915 he was hired by Stephen Mather to join the noted Mather Mountain party, which sought to influence political and business leaders of the importance of conserving significant public lands and creating a government agency to oversee them. The following year when the party’s members pushed Congress to establish the National Park Service, they also documented Sing’s contribution to the party’s success with his creativity in providing the group with delicious meals using local ingredients he would have hauled in by mules in spite of the region’s rugged areas.

Pilgrimage to honor the member of Tie Sing at annual gathering.

Even before receiving the accolades from the Mather Party, the USGS named a peak in 1899 for Sing in honor of his outstanding service as its chef.  This well deserved recognition, it would seem, was certainly unusual considering the atmosphere of that time of racism and xenophobia targeted against Chinese Americans . So it is very timely that over 100 years after Sing’s contributions to the development of the National Park System, that Jack Shu and his followers meet annually to climb Sing Peak to honor him.

Seven trailblazers climb Sing Peak to honor celebrated chef.

This year, Los Angeles Senior Program Manager Dennis Arguelles joined Shu, Kyle Nakayama, Fred Kimura, Tennyson Kwok, Calvin Wong, and Paul Lee for two days trekking through smoky, hot conditions and difficult terrain to reach the top of Sing Peak. At only a modest 10,562 feet, it still was a challenging feat with its remoteness and difficult approach, claimed Arguelles, adding its 360 degree view of the heart of the Sierra Nevada range was spectacular. Tie Sing died in a back country accident in 1918 and it was never known whether Sing himself ever climbed his namesake peak.

So I salute those intrepid seven trailblazers with Jack Shu who paid tribute to the man who helped establish the National Park Service and through these pilgrimages continues to inspire generations of Chinese and Asian Americans  because of his ingenuity and pioneering spirit.  Thanks to Jack Shu’s leadership, this was a wonderful way to honor Tie Sing on the centennial of his passing.



During the summer, the Redwood City City Hall becomes inundated with music lovers every weekend to listen to free musical stage entertainment emanating from the stage set up right in front of the City Hall Plaza. These festivities will continue up to Labor Day and across the street at the Fox Theatre, activity and loud music resonate within there too.  The show is Broadway by the Bay’s SISTER ACT and this lively musical has people toe tapping, heads weaving and arms swaying while the talented performers put on one of BBB’s best offerings of the year.

Broadway By the Way “Sister Act: wows all audiences

What a shame this wonderfully performed musical is only open for nine performances so rush to go see it before its August 25 closing.  The dancing and singing are lively, the acting and dialogue has everyone laughing, and the performers exceptionally talented.  Leslie Ivy-Louthaman’s starring role of the diva who was whisked to be hidden in a convent was star quality, and Mother Superior played by Heather Orth was awe inspiring also.  The tempo of the show was fast and faster, with the laughs coming so often, most of our popcorn got spilled in the melee. Not all shows are applaudable but this staff earned their receipt of a standing ovation and raucous applause.   For well needed humor in these troubled times, don’t miss the laugh a minute SISTER ACT IN Redwood City presented by Broadway By The Bay




Early members of now 40 year old ACCT club gather at recent monthly dinner.

The Association of Chinese Cooking Teachers has been in existence for over 40 years but continues to have a solid membership attend their bi-monthly meetings in different restaurants.  When it began, the purpose was to teach chefs, caterers, home economic teachers and other interested foodies about exotic Chinese cuisine.  Like all non-profit organizations, many times the focus changes and ACCT now is primarily a social eating club with guests joining each time they meet.

Association of Chinese Cooking Teachers Assn. officers Frank Jang, Wanda Lee and Doris Lum

Every other month the ACCT offers a special dinner experience Sunday night for its 170 members. As Veep Frank Jang notes, “We always have special dishes that can be enjoyed by everyone that are missing from the menu and specially prepared for our members.  Look at the huge  crowd we have tonight at San Mateo’s Golden Wok Restaurant locale, and you can see the enthusiasm our members have for trying  out different dishes.  Next month we have a members only dinner at Chef Chu’s of Los Altos with proprietor Lawrence Chu making a special feast for the group.”  Since this is an exclusive offer to members only, this would be a good time to join, don’t you agree?  This is always a highlight event for the year. 2019 officers of the club now leading this very active and growing organization are President Doris Lum, VP Frank Jang, Secretary Angela Pang, Treasurer Wanda Lee, Membership Chair Edith Leong and Board Members Tamiko Wong & Mark Levitt.




ACCT VP Frank Jang welcomes his fellow members of the SF Unified Lions Club to his club dinner

At the ACCT dinner in force were members of the San Francisco Unified Lions Club which had just held its Fourth Installation of Officers at the Basque Cultural Center with 200 members, guests, past & present District Officers from various District 4-C4 present from other Lions Club there in support. It was my pleasure to meet some of the 2019-2020 Officers at the ACCT event.  The incoming officers of the San Francisco Unified Lions Club are:  Lion President Carol Fung, VP Rich Jue, Secretary Alvin Louie, Treasurer Jilina Enriquez, Membership Chair Dawn Cusulos, Director Rudy Guajardo and Project Coordinator Jenny Yu

San Francisco Unified Lions Club members

Newly installed President Carol Fung shared the history of their organization, saying, “On July 26, 2016 the San Francisco Unified Lions Club became a centennial club of the Lions Club International and officially the 50th club in its district, also known as District 4-C4. Lion Alvin Louie felt it was time to form a club that embraced diverse communities with varied backgrounds from all socioeconomic levels. Hence, the word “unified” in our Club’s name has an integral meaning”.    Carol continued happily noting that the SFULC is presently the largest club with over 80 members from a wide demographic in age, race and occupations. For more info: check out website www.sfunifiedlc.org. There is a long list of activities the club has already been actively participating in, so if you’re interested in joining a very active organization, this is it.  Congrats to all of you furthering the fine causes the Lions clubs support and participate in.


Two active organizations in the City of Fremont area collaborated to enjoy a joint summer gathering at the Friends of Children with Special Needs Clubhouse recently.  Members from The South Bay Chinese Club and the Chinese for Better Community (CBC) enjoyed an afternoon of comraderie and food together. Always a formula for good times.


SBCC members Suzanne and Steve Chan, Willy and Cindy Yichoy and Gerrye Wong at annual picnic

 The SOUTH BAY CHINESE CLUB (SBCC) was formed in the Fremont, Newark, Union City area over 50 years ago in 1965 by a group of Chinese American families who were interested in keeping the customs and Chinese heritage alive.  Through the years, according to active member Aaron Wong, social gatherings throughout the year are held including family pot luck dinners, Chinese New Years Public Library Presentation and an annual New Years Banquet.  In 1984 the South Bay Chinese Social Club, the non-profit arm, inaugurated a Scholarship Program and has to date, awarded high school graduates of Chinese surnames thousands of dollars in scholarship funds gathered through personal donations and proceeds from its annual Scholarship Golf Tournament now in its 32nd year.

2019 President Anna Muh, 4th right, welcomes SBCC members to annual summer picnic.

South Bay Chinese Club Officers for 2019 include the following:  President Anna Muh, Vice President Willy Yichoy, Secretary Angela Heywood and Treasurer Gordon Jang.  President of the non-profit arm of the SBCC, the South Bay Chinese Service Club is Aaron Wong.

Citizens for Better Community members gather for summer event.

The Citizens for Better Community group was formed originally by South Bay Area Chinese individuals with a diverse professional background whose mission was “To initiate, sponsor and promote community events which will affect the well-being of Chinese Americans with an emphasis on education, health, business and community involvement.”  Throughout the year the CBC supports many social and community health programs in the South Bay Counties, including Friends of Children with Special Needs, a program for autistic children.

CBC officers gather at Fremont picnic

The group also fosters community leadership by their Toastmasters Program and support and mentoring of local individuals involved in local school boards and city councils. Its active membership also lends their organization’s talents to participate in many enterprising endeavors and cultural exchange programs, local and international.  Leading this very active service organization this year are President Charles Liu, Vice President Dr. Herbert Chiu, Secretary Wilson Hu, Treasurer Robert Kaiser and Legal Counsel David Sheen.  I salute all members of these volunteer organizations who are contributing to community and Chinese American causes for the betterment of the areas where they reside.



Happy Birthday greetings are in store for two leaders in their community who celebrated surrounded by family and friends.



Eunice Chua celebrates birthday in Singapore

Margaret Lee, center, celebrates with friends at Tai Pan in Palo Alto.

Lynn Henderson of Fairmont Chateau Whistler welcomes us on Happy Canada Day .


Singapore Swingers reunion in Pleasanton arranged by Muriel Kao, right, and joined by Frank Louie, Cheerrie and Herbert Tom.


Calvin Wong with his fragrant nigh blooming cirrus

Please excuse a little bragging today but I have to laud my husband, Calvin’s  gardening talents this year.  This year his Night  Blooming Jasmine, oftentimes known to Chinese friends as the “Tan Fa” produced prolifically over 50 flowers in a time frame of three days. For those unfamiliar with this plant, which was featured in the rom-com “Crazy Rich Asians”, each flower only opens to bloom for a maximum of 10 hours, after which it closes up and dangles forlornly. Those who may retire to bed early on its blooming night may miss seeing the flower in full bloom as it only blooms in the evening darkness and by dawn’s early light, is once again closed.


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