Saturday’s event includes almost 30 dishes with flavors that span the continent. 

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Representatives of nine Asian nations will prepare food for the 25th annual Taste of Asia. Asia Society of Oklahoma, a 501(c)3 organization, started the event as a way to raise funds for student scholarships.

Ira Burroughs, ASO’s vice president, said that 100 percent of the proceeds go to the scholarship fund.

“All members donate money to purchase the ingredients, and then they donate their time and energy to cook, which saves on food costs,” Burroughs said.

Asia Society of Oklahoma (ASO) is an affiliation of multiple area associations based on country of origin. When Oklahomans think about Asia, they typically focus on Southeast Asia, but ASO also includes the India Association of Oklahoma and The United Iranian-American Cultural Society. Southeast Asian nations include China, Indonesia, Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. The Japan-America Society of Oklahoma also is a member organization.

Member nations, including Laos (taking the place of Iran), prepare three dishes for Taste of Asia, which means attendees get to sample 27 different dishes in addition to an abundance of desserts.

Because of the limited number of spots — largely based on food and space availability — event tickets must be purchased in advance.

“We have had to reduce the size of the event over the years,” Burroughs said. “We used to have 500, but now we can only take 300 attendees. The tickets go incredibly fast.”

The event features booths from each participating nation, and attendees are free to sample the food of every nation. Burroughs said the booths feature three main courses, so there should be plenty of food.

Taste of Asia is one of three events ASO puts on each year.

The largest is the Asian Festival, normally held each spring. This year, though, it was canceled due to weather and rescheduled for September. That change also impacted this year’s Taste of Asia.

“After the food-tasting, we have traditional entertainment,” Burroughs said. “The entertainers are usually the winners of the entertainment competition at the Asian Festival, but since this year’s was canceled, we have asked the 2014 winners to come back to perform.”

Recipients of the scholarship program — funded entirely by Taste of Asia proceeds — will be announced at the group’s Awards for Excellence gala in November.

Burroughs said that scholarships are available for high school and college students. Applicants are required to write an essay as part of the application process, and ASO representatives select the winners.

One of the main purposes of ASO is education, which includes assisting Asian-Americans with acclimation, general education and other seminars or workshops, and helping other U.S. citizens who want to better understand Asian customs, cultures and heritage.

Burroughs said information for the Asian Festival is still being finalized, and announcements about the rescheduled event will be released soon.

It will include food, entertainment, cultural exhibits — including art, which is another focus of ASO — a marketplace, martial arts exhibitions and a children’s play area.

Learn more about ASO at aso-okc.org.

Print headline: Favorites feast, Saturday’s Taste of Asia includes almost 30 dishes with flavors that span the continent.

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