On the night of September 21, the Grand Hotel in Taipei hosted a long-awaited event—the Tang Prize Banquet. Prize founder Samuel Yin, President of the Control Yuan Chang Po-ya, and many representatives from business, government, and academia celebrated the laureates, who had been awarded earlier that afternoon.
Jenn-Chuan Chern, CEO of the Tang Prize Foundation, pointed out that no one Tang Prize banquet is ever the same. In 2014, food and music were set to Tang Poetry. In 2016, the menu was designed to echo the four fields of the prize. And in 2018, Biopharmaceutical Science was taken as inspiration for the menu. Along with the Chinese Gourmet Association and its president Hong-Che Guo, a nine-course meal was designed that centered on the theme of LOHAS—Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. This principle advocates the use of fresh ingredients served simply and in the proper proportion.
Chang Po-ya, President of the Control Yuan, told the audience during her address that it is wonderful to see the prize gain in notoriety around the world and benefit humanity. Chang reminded the audience that climate change has proven to be an increasingly pressing issue for the entire world—especially for nations with less influence in world affairs. Even advanced nations like Japan, the US, and Australia have felt the effects of this global issue, effects such as floods, forest and brush fires, and water shortages. Chang expressed her admiration for Samuel Yin in creating a prize which addresses the crucial connection between humanity and environment.
Eight laureates were awarded this year, the most in Tang Prize history. James E. Hansen and Veerabhadran Ramanathan in Sustainable Development; Tony Hunter, Brian J. Druker, and John Mendelsohn in Biopharmaceutical Science; Stephen Owen and Yoshinobu Shiba in Sinology; and Joseph Raz in Rule of Law. Being unable to attend the event in person, John Mendelsohn was represented by his son, Jeff Mendelsohn.
Under the direction of Guo Hong-Che, president of the Chinese Gourmet Association, with head chef Yeh Ba-Hua leading the Grand Hotel kitchen, the nine-course meal was a grand success. Such popular foods as salted mullet roe, dragon tiger grouper, Japanese wagyu beef, and red quinoa were presented to the guests of honor over nine courses of healthy, but also stylish, cuisine. Taste was not the only consideration. Topping the night off, internationally renowned chef Xu Yao-guang displayed his expert knifework in a dessert—sweet chrysanthemum soup with chrysanthemum-shaped tofu. Xu first cuts tofu with a round mold and then makes a total of 108 cuts vertically and 108 cuts horizontally, each 0.5 centimeters in depth. With that, he transforms what was a nondescript tofu into a chrysanthemum blossom with 11,664 individual petal-like strands. The “flower” is placed in a bowl of sweetened chrysanthemum soup, where it “blooms” into a flowery dessert.
Back by popular response was the Taiko drum troupe U-Theatre, and Great River Arts Group, adding music to the merriment. For the third year, the Tang Prize Banquet has celebrated accomplishment through a variety of arts, visual, musical, and cookery.