A YouTube Short From Portland’s All the Homies Network Snagged a James Beard Award in June

“Understand that you can look like any of us up here and know that your story matters and your voice deserves to be heard.”

All the Homies

Have you heard the one about the award-winning show that tells it like it is about the restaurant business while centering immigrant and BIPOC characters?

No, not The Bear. Rather, it’s Restaurant Takeover ft. Matta, a YouTube short from Portland’s All the Homies Network that took home a James Beard Award in the Reality or Competition Visual Media category in June.

The documentary, which explores themes of identity, family history, and food itself as storytelling, features Matta food truck owners Richard and Sophia Lê on a night they popped up with a multicourse meal at the Multnomah Whiskey Library. It was an underdog winner over two bigger, richer national entities—Bravo’s Top Chef and Bon Appétit. That made its 28-year-old director, Mike Truong, both the youngest-ever American recipient of the prestigious food award as well as the first born-and-raised Portlander to win one—an especially meaningful achievement given that James Beard himself was from here.

But there was even more important ground being broken.

“Understand that you can look like any of us up here and know that your story matters and your voice deserves to be heard,” Truong said in his acceptance speech.

“Us” being the All the Homies Network, a collective of BIPOC Portland chefs and filmmakers that, in addition to Richard and Sophia Lê, also includes Deadstock Coffee’s Ian Williams, Portland Cà Phê's Kim Dam, Geraldine and Ethan Leung of Baon Kainan, and Lisa Nguyen of HeyDay PDX. Truong, who went to Benson Polytechnic High School and Oregon State University before briefly working in kitchens himself, started All the Homies just last year, though he’s been making videos—and submitting them to the James Beard Awards—since he was 18.

All the homies in All the Homies made it to Chicago for the awards ceremony, along with three additional crew members; they had to buy 10 of those 11 tickets, pay their own travel expenses, and take time off from their extremely hands-on businesses to do it. When the win was announced, the raucous celebration lit up the room, startling even the ceremony’s droll host, Peter Sagal of National Public Radio’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!

“People came up to us and said, ‘Wow, that was such an amazing moment of how we embraced each other on the stage,’” Truong says. “We were like little kids in the candy store, jumping around and yelling. And that’s because it was so new to us. You could tell the other people who have won [in] previous years. They thanked their publicists and just walked off because it was so normal for them.”

The win for All the Homies was also a win for Portland, one that stands in stark contrast to both the past few years of national media coverage and the city’s own self-image.

“I think it was important for us to win because it showed that the city is not that bad at all,” Truong says. “It’s actually something that is beautiful and amazing within the small communities and the pockets of Portland that people don’t really notice. Even though people say the city is very white—which is true—we’re all BIPOC individuals. People don’t understand the amount of community we have here.”

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