Food critic Jonathan Gold has had a storied career, a large part of which has been spent covering Asian restaurants in Alhambra. As such, people took notice when he commented on Sunday's Taste of Alhambra festival via Twitter. Specifically, his tweet concerned the lack of Asian residents in poster ad for the event: "Is it just me, or is it odd that the poster for Taste of Alhambra doesn't include a single Asian?"The quote spurred a discussion that turned to the festival's lineup of restaurants. Alhambra's highly-regarded collection of Asian establishments, many of which are located on Valley Boulevard, was largely absent. The majority of participants at the festival hailed from Main Street. Included were Fonteras Mexican Grill and Cantina, Diner on Main and Alondra Hot Wings.Owen Guenthard, executive director at the Chamber of Commerce, said that event planners had the intension of including all Alhambra restaurants. "We don't discern by ethnic groups," Guenthard said. "We want to promote the city as well, so it's logical for us to promote all restaurants. And this is a charitable event, so we want everyone to be out there." The Chamber helped with outreach and promotion for the event."We made an attempt to reach out to all restaurants," said Sharon Gibbs, who is in charge of business outreach at the Chamber. "We sent mailings. We also sent out emails and phone calls. In the end it was their choice on if it would be a worthwhile promotion."The annual festival, held near the intersection of Second Street and Main, was presented by The Downtown Alhambra Business Association as a way to connect residents with Alhambra's restaurants. For a $45 entrance fee, attendees were treated to food from local establishments, wine and live music. Proceeds went to the Alhambra Educational Fund, which helped coordinate the event.Gibbs noted that the festival was free of charge for restaurants who wanted to participate, though they were expected to provide their own food. Event coordinators also provided staffing, as well as heating and cooking accommodations for vendors. Gibbs added that while the event was pitched as a promotional opportunity, some restaurant owners may not have seen it as an ideal venue to showcase their food. "Sometimes the whole purpose is to present the food fresh," Gibbs said, explaining that the issue of transporting food may be an issue for restaurants located away from Main Street.According to Kerry Lam, a shift manager at Boiling Crab's Main Street location, the restaurant was aware of the event, but did not consider participating. Lam added that some of the more traditional Asian restaurants may feel skeptical towards the festival. "I don't think they're used to it. It's just not something they'd do," Lam said.
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