Suvir Saran, Ben Huh to Headline 2012 AAJA Gala

Clockwise from top left: Suvir Saran, Ben Huh, Robert Santos, Renee Chou, Patranya Bhoolsuwan and Michael Kim.

June 1, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO — The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) is pleased to welcome two distinguished speakers for the 2012 AAJA Gala Awards Banquet. Chef and cookbook author Suvir Saran and Internet entrepreneur Ben Huh will offer their perspectives on the importance of journalism in an increasingly multicultural, interconnected world.

The Gala Awards Banquet will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, in Islander Ballrooms H and I at the Mandalay Bay, in conjunction with the UNITY Journalists convention.

“Food is the language that unites so many of us in AAJA, so we are excited to have Suvir joining us in Las Vegas to share not only his passion for healthy eating but also his experiences as an Asian in America,” said Doris Truong, AAJA National President. “And Ben has built an empire around the principle of making people happy for five minutes a day, so we are eager for more details about his new start-up, Circa, which plans to re-imagine the way news is delivered.”

Saran, who was born in New Delhi, said that living as a minority in the United States has been a “rather interesting study.”

“Over the last 20 years I have faced hate for being gay, for looking different, for having an accent and for thinking differently than what is commonly considered correct,” Saran said. “And so, I rely on journalists that come from backgrounds such as mine, even more so, as I feel they can better understand the need for us to have open dialogue and active reporting of such diversity and the challenges it poses.”

Saran is executive chef of Dévi, the first Indian restaurant in the United States to earn an Michelin star. He is working on his next restaurant concept around Indian dining in Chicago, and his most recent cookbook, “Masala Farm,” was a 2012 James Beard award finalist.

AAJA’s other featured speaker during the Gala Awards Banquet is the chief executive and founder of Cheezburger. Huh is a journalist-turned-dot-com-entrepreneur credited with bringing Internet memes to a mainstream audience and popularizing Internet culture.

“Ben is the perfect person to talk to journalists about how to make the connection with an audience experiencing information overload,” Truong said.

The AAJA Gala Awards Banquet will be co-emceed by ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor Michael Kim and Patranya Bhoolsuwan, a weekend morning anchor for KLAS, the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas.  Immediately preceding the gala Aug. 3 will be AAJA’s Silent Auction, which will be co-emceed Renee Chou of WRAL in Raleigh, N.C., and Robert Santos of KGTV in San Diego.

Suvir Saran photo by Jim Franco

Media Contact: AAJA Executive Director Kathy Chow

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  • Telephone: 415-346-2051, Ext. 106
  • Mailing address: 5 Third St., Suite 1108, San Francisco, Calif. 94103

The Asian American Journalists Association is a nonprofit professional and educational organization with more than 1,500 members across the United States and in Asia. Founded in 1981, AAJA has been at the forefront of change in the journalism industry. AAJA’s mission is to encourage Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) to enter the ranks of journalism, to work for fair and accurate coverage of AAPIs, and to increase the number of AAPI journalists and news managers in the industry. AAJA is an alliance partner in UNITY Journalists, along with the Native American Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. For more information about AAJA, visit