Flashback to My First Shanghai Thanksgiving at Jean-Georges Restaurant

Reflecting back on my first Thanksgiving holiday in Shanghai, I recall I decided to host an elegant Thanksgiving dinner for my international group of friends, as many of them were  unfamiliar with this traditional American holiday.

I wanted to offer them the best, so I planned my dinner party at the award-winning New York chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Shanghai restaurant. His first signature eatery outside Manhattan, this branch is located in Three on the Bund, a 1916 neo-classical building.

Yes, the restaurant is known for its French cuisine, but the chef on this occasion was American-born Eric Johnson, so I knew he’d understand just what was called for.

Jean-Georges restaurant at Three on the Bund, the 1916 colonial building.

Gathering for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in JG’s dining alcove.

Amelie de Mony-Pajol, Geoff Mannering, host Jeanne Lawrence, and Ding’An Fei.

Shelley Lim and David Zhong.

Adriana Mannering and Lyle Hayden.

I owe thanks to the then General Manager, Frenchman Jacky Goergler, for helping me find just the right setting for an intimate “family dinner” feel—an alcove off the bar. I decorated the long dining table with a holiday theme: a cornucopia of seasonal fall flowers, candelabras, and votives.

After sipping French Champagne in the bar area, we sat down to an elegant version of the traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner: Warm Mushroom Ravioli with Parmesan Broth and Herbs; Slow-Cooked Salmon with Celeriac Puree and Black Truffle Vinaigrette; Roasted Organic Turkey with Chestnut-Sourdough Stuffing; Cranberry; and dessert tastings. To accompany the menu, I chose California wines, in support of my friends in Napa Valley.

Sergio Young.

Annie Wang, Jeanne Lawrence, and Laurette Hartignan.

Family-style gathering.

Jennifer Yan, Christian Poda, and Lyle Hayden.

Geoff Mannering and Jeanne Lawrence.

Alex Hartignan and Chuk-Kwan Ting.

Warm Mushroom Ravioli with Parmesan Broth and Herbs.

Dessert Tasting Finale.

My guest list reflected how international a city Shanghai has become. I was joined by friends from mainland China and the U.S. as well as Taiwan, France, Germany, England, Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Hong Kong, and Japan.

In my toast, I remarked that though we were from different countries, the fact that we were all in Shanghai showed we had kindred spirit.

Laurette Hartignan and Johnny Hornby.

Kiko Sih and Defne Ayas.

Amelie de Mony-Pajol and Ding’An Fei.

Sophie Von Haselberg, daughter of Bette Midler,  and Jeanne Lawrence.

Peter Lim and Liu Ying Mei.

Lynn Barboza and Pippa Dennis.

Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage Part 7

On a trip to China with the Global Heritage Fund, I explored some truly incredible historical sites, capped off by a stop at Taiyuan city’s impressive Shanxi Museum of archaeology, art, and culture.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(Seventh of a Seven-part Series)

Taiyuan

Some of my best memories of the “Middle Kingdom” include my nine-day tour of historically significant sites with the Palo Alto-based Global Heritage Fund (GHF)—an organization devoted to supporting underdeveloped rural areas worldwide. Upon my return, I published recollections of the trip. A record of the final stretch, again illustrated primarily by my personal photographs, follows. (Links to the other installments in this series can be found at the end of this article.)

For the final stretch of our trip, we returned to Taiyuan for a visit to the Shanxi Museum of relics and art and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at the ancient Jinci Temple before returning to the U.S.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage Part 6

On a uniquely enriching and memorable trip to China, I explored some truly incredible, off-the-beaten-path historical sites, such as the Xuankongsi Hanging Temple, which clings precariously to the side of Wutai Mountain.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(Sixth of a Seven-part Series)

Wutai Mountains

In anticipation of a return to China, I’ve been revisiting my past travels to the country. Some of my best memories of the “Middle Kingdom” include my nine-day tour of historically significant sites with the Palo Alto-based Global Heritage Fund (GHF)—an organization devoted to supporting underdeveloped rural areas worldwide.

DAY 7: HISTORIC SITES ON WUTAI MOUNTAIN

Leaving the ancient walled city of Pingyao, we continued further north to explore an amazing and unique set of historical sites on Wutai Mountain.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage Part 5

On a uniquely enriching and memorable trip to China, I explored some incredible off-the-beaten-path historical sites, including several sacred temples such as this Shuanglin complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(
Fifth of a Seven-Part Series)

Fujian and Shanxi

In anticipation of a return to China, I’ve been revisiting my past travels to the country. Some of my best memories of the “Middle Kingdom” include my nine-day tour of historically significant sites with the Palo Alto-based Global Heritage Fund (GHF)—an organization devoted to supporting underdeveloped rural areas worldwide.

DAY 6: HISTORICAL TEMPLES IN THE ANCIENT WALLED CITY OF PINGYAO

After spending a third day in historic Pingyao, we wrapped up our exploration of this ancient walled city with tours of several historically significant Taoist and Buddhist temples in and near the Old City.

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San Francisco Social Diary: The San Francisco Opera’s “Dream of the Red Chamber”

A day after its Opening Gala, the San Francisco Opera presented Dream of the Red Chamber, a gorgeous multi-national production based on a classic Chinese novel.

SAN FRANCISCO OPERA DEBUTS WORLD PREMIERE OF CHINESE OPERA

The San Francisco Opera held the world premiere of the Chinese opera Dream of the Red Chamber and a second sold-out gala only a day after its spectacular annual Opening Night Gala for the premiere of Andrea Chenier.

Dream of the Red Chamber is a classic Chinese novel by Cao Xueqin, as well known in China as Romeo and Juliet in the West. Written in the mid-18th century during the Qing Dynasty, it’s considered one of the four greatest Chinese novels, along with The Three Kingdoms, The Water Margin, and Journey to the West.

Twice as long as War and Peace, with more than 400 characters, the tale is challenging to adapt as a two-and-a-half-hour show. In China, it has inspired numerous films and theatre pieces, two television series, and countless operas.

The SF Opera performance of Dream of the Red Chamber featured vividly ornamented, dreamlike sets designed by Tim Yip, who won an Oscar art direction on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

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Shanghai Social Diary in New York: China Institute Celebrates 90th Year Gala

China Institute 90th Anniversary Gala Co-Chair Yue-Sai Kan with Peking Opera actors, who performed in New York City.

CHINA INSTITUTE CELEBRATES 90th YEAR GALA

China Institute celebrated its 90th anniversary in New York City with a glittering gala that included a surprise performance by a troupe of Peking Opera performers. Three people were honored for their contribution to increasing understanding and cooperation between the U.S and China: Bob Chapek, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman; Richard Gelfond, IMAX Corporation CEO; and fashion designer Guo Pei.

I was elated at the inclusion of Guo Pei, whom I predicted would become one of the biggest international names in haute couture when I first saw her work.

China Institute President James Heimowitz, Gala Co-Chair Sophia Sheng, Haute Couture Designer Beatrice Pei, and China Institute Board Chair Chien Chung “Didi” Pei.

Guan Wang, the evening’s emcee and chief political correspondent for CCTV America’s Mandarin service, with TV presenter and writer Chiu-Ti Jansen.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Shanghai’s Vintage & Modern Architecture

In the vibrant metropolis of Shanghai, modern skyscrapers fill the skyline, but in the Xintiandi district, you can still discover architectural gems of the city’s storied past transformed into a popular entertainment hub.

LITERARY LUNCH: SHANGHAI’S VINTAGE & MODERN ARCHITECTURE

One afternoon in Shanghai, I wandered over to the famed restaurant M on the Bund for a “Literary Lunch,” where American architect Ben Wood and Shanghainese author Andrea Mingfai Chu spoke about Shanghai’s architectural heritage.

In Shanghai, author Andrea Mingfai Chu and architect Ben Wood presented a talk at M on the Bund, where Australian owner Michelle Garnaut launched Literary Lunches.

M on the Bund is one of the architectural gems in the city, housed in the historic Nissin Shipping Building built in 1921 (center).

One of the first restaurants to open on the historic Bund in 1999, M provides a stunning view of Shanghai’s most famous sights along the riverside promenade.

One of the first restaurants to open on the historic Bund in 1999, M provides a stunning view of Shanghai’s most famous sights along the riverside promenade.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Hiking in the Chinese Countryside

Living in a city the size of Shanghai, with over 20 million inhabitants, requires an occasional escape. One weekend, my hiking group took a trip to Tai Hu Lake for some peace, quiet, and fresh air in the countryside.

HIKING IN THE CHINESE COUNTRYSIDE

Early one autumn Saturday, venture capitalist Jennifer Yan, publisher Andrea Mingfai Chu, and I went on a day trip to the countryside with our hiking group. Our destination was Tai Hu Lake, west of Shanghai, to visit an authentic farming and fishing village.

Tai Hu Lake is third largest freshwater lake in China, has 90 islands, and empties into the Yangtze River.

China is the world’s leading source of wild-caught fish and aquaculture, and Tai Hu Lake is a source for several fish species, including the seasonal delicacy, hairy crab.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage Part 4

On a nine-day trip to China with the GHF (Global Heritage Fund), I explored some truly incredible, off-the-beaten-path historical sites, including three days at my favorite stop, the stunning ancient walled city of Pingyao.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(Fourth of a Seven-part Series)

Fujian and Shanxi

I recently had the privilege of taking a nine-day trip to China in the company of board members of the Palo Alto-based Global Heritage Fund (GHF)—an organization devoted to supporting underdeveloped rural areas worldwide. Although I’d previously traveled extensively in China, this unusual excursion was uniquely enriching and memorable. It’s my pleasure to share this experience with you in a series of recollections illustrated primarily by my personal photographs. Links to the other installments in this series can be found at the end of this article.

After resting up from our first magical day in historic Pingyao, we looked forward to more experiences in the ancient walled city, including an up-close encounter with the walls themselves.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage Part 3

On a nine-day trip to China with the GHF (Global Heritage Fund), I explored some truly incredible, off-the-beaten-path historical sites, including my favorite stop, the ancient walled city of Pingyao.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(Third in a Seven-part series)

Fujian and Shanxi

I recently had the privilege of taking a nine-day trip to China in the company of board members of the Palo Alto-based Global Heritage Fund (GHF)—an organization devoted to supporting underdeveloped rural areas worldwide. Although I’d previously traveled extensively in China, this unusual excursion was uniquely enriching and memorable. It’s my pleasure to share this experience with you in a series of recollections illustrated primarily by my personal photographs. Links to the other installments in this series can be found at the end of this article.

After exploring the port town of Zhangzhou and touring ancient earthen residences called “tulous” in southeast China, we next travelled north to the ancient walled city of Pingyao.

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