New York Family Discovers Vancouver’s Unique Cultural & Culinary Fusion

Emelle’s and The Fun Team Group join forces to create an elite outdoor dining experience at Vancouver’s iconic Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Featuring: Sacha Chin | Event Manager, The Fun Team Group

On a warm summer day, 15 travellers from New York City enjoy a Tai Chi lesson in Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Built for the 1986 World Expo in a style reflective of the Ming Dynasty scholars’ gardens in Suzhou, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden was the first authentic Chinese garden to be built outside of China. The New Yorkers have chosen it specifically as one of the highlight destinations to visit during their stay in Vancouver, where they’ve gathered to honour what has become an annual tradition—the sharing of a new international adventure with family and friends.

Event management company The Fun Team Group has planned a special day for them. A private guided tour preceded the Tai Chi lesson, and up next is an exquisite outdoor meal. In the heart of the garden, a table is elegantly set. Gold Chiavari chairs are drawn, ready for guests to be seated. The head of the travelling party is a couple who treat their friends and family to an all-expenses-paid trip each year. In an age of distractions and competing demands, it’s their way of ensuring that family time doesn’t become an afterthought and that memories are made and shared with loved ones. As a group, they’ve visited iconic landmarks all over the world and dined at some of the ritziest restaurants imaginable. Their expectations for Vancouver, known as a foodie’s city, are high.

To impress them, Fun Team founder Sacha Chin needs to present a meal worthy of the city’s top-end restaurants. She needs to present an experience, and she’s asked Emelle’s Catering to help her do it. On the day, Emelle’s CEO and Executive Chef Mary Lee Newnham is on site, presenting a menu of B.C.-inspired dishes that highlight the fusion of cuisines that Vancouver is known for and the fusion of cultures that the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden represents.

A menu of B.C.-inspired dishes highlighted the fusion of cuisines that Vancouver is known for and the fusion of cultures that the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden represents.

Newnham personally oversees the plating of each course, ensuring a thoughtful, beautiful presentation. In the catering world, it’s difficult to find service as amazing as the food, notes Chin, but Emelle’s excels in both. “Mary Lee really added the personal touch,” says Chin. “She was serving them on gold-trimmed plates! It was a special and unique experience for this group.”

It’s not the first time Emelle’s has come through for Chin. The first event she took on after launching her event management company in 2007 was the JDRF Vancouver’s Sun Life Walk to Cure Diabetes, a major fundraising event that drew thousands of participants. “We were in a pinch,” recounts Chin. “The regular volunteers—who were scheduled to cook hot dogs for 5,000 people!—bailed at the last minute.” She needed help, and Emelle’s immediately came to mind.

“Mary Lee and Michael brought their barbecues down to Stanley Park—on their day off—and cooked hot dogs for all of those people,” says Chin, her surprise and gratitude still evident. “And they’ve continued to do so ever since.” Over the years Chin and Emelle’s have worked together on a variety of events. From hot dogs in the park to private parties tailored for the elite, Chin says, “Emelle’s always rises to the occasion. They show up for me, anytime I ask.”