SAN FRANCISCO — Expanded cooking demonstrations, a new scavenger hunt and a Tofu Passport to artisan vendors, and a record number of vendors highlight the country’s only known celebration of the joy of soy, as the eighth annual Northern California Soy and Tofu Festival will be held Saturday, June 30, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at The Event Center at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, 1111 Gough St. (at Geary Boulevard) near San Francisco’s Japantown.
There will be a free revolving shuttle to and from the Japantown Peace Plaza (Post and Buchanan) to The Event Center, sponsored by the Japantown Community Benefits District.
The festival — the signature fundraiser of the Nichi Bei Foundation — will feature live entertainment, various soy- and tofu-related vendors, free samples with admission, an educational component highlighting the various uses of soy, audience participation games including a Tofu Eating Contest, a children’s activity area, raffle and a Soy and Tofu Dessert Competition.
Co-emcees are KTVU Fox 2 reporter Jana Katsuyama and NBC Bay Area traffic anchor Mike Inouye.
This year’s festival features a curated set of cooking demonstrators, who will add their culinary skills to the mix. This includes The Culinary Dude / Scott Davis, who will demonstrate Edamame Hummus; S+W Vegan, who will demonstrate using Hodo yuba and tofu; Tofu Mochi Donuts by Eri Combs of Kaori’s Kitchen; and longtime Nichi Bei Times / Nichi Bei Weekly columnist The Gochiso Gourmet / Ryan Tatsumoto of Hawaii, who will demonstrate Soymilk Custard.
Featured live entertainment will include the Murasaki Ensemble Trio, a jazz ensemble led by Oakland-based Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto on koto; Masaru Koga and Friends, including band leader Masaru Koga of San Francisco on saxophones, flute and shakuhachi and Akira Tana on drums; LEX the Lexicon Artist, a Taipei-raised and Oakland-based artist who “combines frank storytelling, sharp commentary, and a comically huge ego to deliver her unique perspective of being a weird Asian nerd in America”; and The College Fund Street Band, an Elk Grove-based family of young musicians ranging from ages 11 to 17 who perform to support their college educations.
“We’re excited about the growth and evolution of this year’s festival, with several new exciting features and a growing list of both food and artisan vendors, carefully curated by our vendor committee,” said Nichi Bei Foundation President Kenji G. Taguma. “We’re very enthusiastic about these new additions, driven by our wonderful committee, which includes many new faces among our veterans. It’s great to see our vision of community-building and leadership development come to fruition, all in the celebration of the one of the most nutritious and versatile items omnipresent in Asian food culture.”
Admission is greatly reduced this year — only $5, or four for a total of $15, and free for children 10 and under — designed to make the event more affordable and accessible to a larger audience. Proceeds from sponsorships, vendors, some food sales and a raffle and help the Nichi Bei Foundation continue to publish the Nichi Bei Weekly — the first nonprofit ethnic community newspaper of its kind in the country — and its website, www.nichibei.org. The first 500 attendees at the door will receive a free tote.
A number of new vendors join favorites of the past this year. There will also be a host of free samples from Kikkoman Pearl Soy Milk and Kikkoman sauces, Morinaga Tofu, Hodo tofu, Megumi Natto, Tofurky, Soylent, Clif Bar and the like.
The festival will also feature the popular mascots Cutie Tofutti and Tofu Panda.
Major sponsors include Kikkoman, the San Francisco Japantown Foundation, California Bank & Trust, Union Bank and the Oshima Ueunten Foundation. The Dessert Competition sponsor is Morinaga, the Tiny Tofu Town sponsor is PG&E, and the Scavenger Hunt sponsor is JiNS. Media sponsors are NBC Bay Area, Crossings TV, Nichi Bei Weekly, Korea Times and The New Fillmore.
For more information or to order tickets, visit: www.soyandtofufest.org.