Sampling Michelin-star takeout food in Hong Kong

Michelin-starred takeout food

“Imagine living inside a giant pinball machine where the object isn’t to win but to eat.” — Anthony Bourdain on Hong Kong’s cuisine

We’ve embarked on some memorable culinary adventures in Hong Kong this week, where it’s been said that great food is a birthright. And as for the pinball machine metaphor,  we’ve eaten delicious food in all sorts of places: from food stalls to cafes to the most upscale restaurants (a lavish dinner buffet at the Verandah restaurant at The Peninsula was mind-boggling).

Some of the memorable dishes on our trip: tea-smoked duck, sashimi, dim sum, Indian curry, and The Pen’s mango soufflé and housemade chocolates (more on that in a later post).

Another standout was the crispy roast goose and roast pork at Kam’s Roast Goose (甘牌燒鵝)  on Hennessy Road on Hong Kong Island — a Star Ferry ride from our home base in Kowloon. Hongkongers enjoy goose for its crispy skin and tender, juicy flesh — and Kam’s is a standout.

Kam’s is a modest, “no-frills” 30-seat restaurant on a bustling street, much like the eateries that are ubiquitous in San Francisco’s Chinatown — except that Kam’s is the winner of a coveted Michelin star. (For comparison’s sake, Michael Mina in San Francisco — where “the caviar parfait never goes out of style” — also is a Michelin one-star restaurant).

“The Kam family name is synonymous with their famous roast goose restaurant,” according to the Michelin Guide. “This little place is owned by the third generation of the family and he wisely hired his father’s former chef to ensure the goose is as crisp and succulent as ever. With only 30 seats, don’t be surprised to see a queue.”

Added the South China Morning Post: “One of the grandsons of Yung Kee founder, Hardy Kam Shun-yuen opened the restaurant to serve quality roast goose in a casual setting with rice or rice noodles, either thick (lai fun) or thin (mai fun).

“The birds are sourced near Dongguan, as Kam believes the weather and climate is better there. The geese are roasted in a gas oven as opposed to traditional charcoal, but the classic flavour for the most part is retained.”

The geese are freshly delivered every morning and roasted in a gas oven instead of the traditional charcoal way. The day’s roasted meats are displayed in the window.

“A Symphony of Skin”

Anthony Boudain at Kam’s. We recognized the woman to his left; she took our order

Anthony Bourdain (who is now deceased) ate at Kam’s. His conclusion was: “A symphony of skin.”

We were prepared for a “queue” when we arrived, but not for one that was over an hour wait. So we ordered takeout and brought it back to our hotel room. Kam’s takeout is a popular with locals. We served ours with a split of The Peninsula’s “house” champagne. (The house champagne is an amazing Deutz Brut Classic).

Our takeout, served on The Pen’s china

The goose and pork is crispy on the outside with juicy meat on the inside. It comes with a house-made special sauce (which includes secret spices and bean paste) as well as a fruity plum sauce for dipping.

This video offers a view of Kam’s Roast Goose, the cooking process, and an interview with Hardy Kam Shun-yuen:

Hong Kong’s Chungking Mansions: “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore”

HONG KONG —Just a five-minute walk from the five-star Peninsula Hotel where we’re staying sits the one-star Chungking Mansions on Nathan Road—well-known as one of the cheapest accommodations in Hong Kong, among other things.

I’d long been wanting to check it out. It was featured in Wong Kar-wai’s well-regarded 1994 film Chungking Express, and in an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown about Hong Kong that intrigued me.

This place met our expectations as a one-of-a-kind experience — a bazaar, food court, guest quarters and foreign exchange office (among other features), all wrapped into one.

It was anything but homogenous Asian culture (which was more evident on a previous visit to Tokyo, even Shanghai). People from all over the world, and all walks of life, were milling about.  And it was mysterious, including some of the food in the stalls, which looked like “mystery meat,” despite some favorable reviews. As Dorothy would put it: “Toto we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

“A gathering place for traders, small-time entrepreneurs, travelers looking for cheap accommodations, and migrants from around the world, it has gained a reputation as a seedy enclave, where dodgy underground transactions are conducted in dark corners,” said Bourdain (now deceased) in a May 2018 episode about Hong Kong.

“But for many of its occupants, Chungking Mansions is a place of opportunity. Thousands of migrants and asylum seekers have come here, finding cheap rents and opening businesses—restaurants, DVD shops, and trading companies among them—and have built new lives and communities there.”

Added the South China Morning Post; “To Time magazine, it’s ‘Asia’s best example of globalisation in action.’ Chungking Mansions in Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, is a warren of shops, cheap guesthouses and places to eat spread across five blocks. A popular destination for visitors on a budget, the mansions famously featured in Wong Kar-wai’s 1994 film Chungking Express.” A special report in the newspaper is here.

The 17-story building in Kowloon, built in 1961, epitomizes the “melting pot” of Hong Kong, a mix of old and new, along with being a gathering place for the city’s ethnic minorities, including South Asians, Middle Eastern people, Nigerians, Europeans, Americans and others.

Chungking Mansions has a resident population of about 4000 and an estimated 10,000 daily visitors. More than 120 different nationalities – predominantly South Asian and African – pass through its doors in a single year.

A standard single room goes for as little as 300HK or about $38.  According to Lonely Planet, “Though standards vary significantly, most of the guesthouses at CKM are clean and quite comfortable. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that rooms are usually the size of cupboards and you have to shower right next to the toilet. The rooms typically come with air-con and TV and, sometimes, a window. Virtually all have wi-fi and some even offer daily housekeeping and luxuries like toothbrushes!”

Another review — “the smallest room I’ve ever stayed in” — is here. The conclusion: “For me personally, I doubt I would stay again. My decision has more to do with the size of the rooms rather than feeling unsafe.”

(A notice on Chungking Mansions’ website offers this warning: “We remind visitors before choosing please confirm the guesthouse has obtained the Government License for legal purposes. In addition, we provide services supervision on our members and we recommend visitors to choose our members.”)

Cinematographer Christopher Doyle, whose works include Chungking Express,  shares his thoughts on Chungking Mansions here. He concludes: “As a filmmaker, this is a metaphor for our differences, which are united in a space. This is why I love this place, because to me film is about location.”

Four nights at the Peninsula Hong Kong

HONG KONG — The Peninsula Hong Kong (香港半島酒店), located in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, is our home base for this “excellent adventure.” It opened in 1928 was billed “the finest hotel east of the Suez.” It combines colonial and modern elements, and is notable for its large fleet of Rolls-Royces painted a distinctive “Peninsula green.” More historic details here.

The building was completed in 1927 and the hotel opened in 1928. It offered unobstructed views of Nathan Road and Lion Rock at the rear. That has changed, and the “Grande Dame” now is surrounded by high rises. A brief history is here.

This is the view from the hotel’s swimming pool and spa on the 7th and 8th floors, looking out on Victoria Harbor:

Our “room with a view”:

The South China Morning Post and The New York Times are offered at breakfast. The newspapers come with hand towels. Who wants newspaper ink on their hands after reading the newspaper?

The hotel is filled with wonderful artwork. One example,  below, is Botero Sojourn’s “Picnic.” The Peninsula Hong Kong has teamed up with the Peninsula Shanghai to showcase Botero’s world-class works in 2019. Fernando Botero was born in Medellín, Colombia, in 1932 and attended a matador school in his youth, according to his bio. He later studied art at Madrid’s Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. After his art began to achieve international acclaim in the 1970s, Botero moved to Paris.

Today, his paintings and sculptures are exhibited around the world such as Park Avenue in New York City, the Champs-Élysées in Paris and Central Harbourfront in Hong Kong.

The hotel also is known for its fleet of Rolls Royce Phantoms.​ “The emerald green Phantom VIII is known for its curb appeal, but its less visible features make it perfect for navigating the city streets: active anti-roll bars, electrically controlled air springs, and a road-scanning camera that helps anticipate bumps (and potholes) in the road before they actually hit the wheels makes for a drive so smooth you’ll feel like Jasmine or Aladdin,” according to Conde Nast Traveler. More details here.

The Lobby is considered one of the most elegant meeting places in Hong Kong. The revered tradition of afternoon tea is accompanied by The Lobby musicians, playing live daily. We heard them at night too, when we returned from a music concert at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Here’s a video and audio clip of their music:


Aboard Cathay Pacific Flight #893


“I’d love to get you on a slow boat to China.” — Bing Crosby

Hello from aboard Cathay Pacific Flight #893 from SFO to Hong Kong.

Contrary to being on a “slow boat to China,” we’re jetting to Hong Kong aboard a new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft (“all jet, no lag.”) Our plane still has that “new car smell.”

The wireless internet up here is a little sluggish but decent. I like to track our progress on Flight Aware, and it shows we’re flying at 447 mph, at 40,000 feet, on our 14-hour, 47-minute journey. You also can track the flight on the touch screen, seat-back entertainment system — albeit with less detail.

I love airplane travel. One memorable trip was being invited on the delivery flight of a Pacific Southwest Airlines BAE-146 from England to SFO (via stops in Iceland and Green Bay, Wisc.) in the mid-’80s when I was the airline writer for The San Francisco Chronicle. The plane had not even been painted (we nicknamed it the “green weenie”), we played board games on the floor, and slept on the floor too in our sleeping bags. A few seats had been installed to meet requirements.

On this flight the airplane cabin is minty green, or more of an emerald green — Cathay Pacific’s famous colors — and it is a bit more fashionable than the “green weenie.”

This was a semi-spontaneous trip. Cathay Pacific’s  “CyberMonday” offer in November was too good to refuse: less than $700 roundtrip in “premium economy,” a savings of about $500.

We celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary this spring — or that was the excuse. Our dog is in good hands with our housesitter and dog sitter, and our son is in good hands with his anut and uncle in Nevada City. We cut the trip down to less than a week, partly out of guilt.

The “premium economy” cabin is full, but it is roomy and semi-private — a   “cabin within a cabin” with just 32 seats out of 334. “Padding is substantial, legroom is exceptionally good, entertainment screens are large and remotes are easy to use,” as one reviewer notes, adding “The seats control offers multiple pre set flight positions, with both foot and calf-rest support. Most importantly, there’s a USB and separate universal power port for each traveler. No fighting required. ”

We didn’t figure we’d be too hungry when our flight took off at 12:15 a.m., so we ordered fruit plates, but the menu for hot items looked good too.

Time goes fast. I watched Bohemian Rhapsody, listened to some classical music, read and slept about 6 hours. Now we’re traveling down the coast of mainland China toward Hong Kong. Our arrival is set at 6:46 a.m.

The Peninsula Hotel has promised us a “day room” if our room isn’t ready, and the hotel has a spectacular-looking indoor pool to “kill some time,” if you could call it that. Happy Hump Day (though it’s Thursday here)!

Returning to UCLA for a campus tour

WESTWOOD — I am spending the morning reading the Daily Bruin newspaper with a cup of coffee during a visit to UCLA this weekend. It is a celebration of our family’s past — and its future.

We are here with our son for an organized campus tour, part of our family’s ongoing visits to college campuses throughout California and elsewhere. We are here to explore for the weekend, also visiting — shhhh! UCLA’s arch-rival USC for a shorter visit. Our son is a STEM student, though he is enjoying his American literature course this semester.

We are staying at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center, a glorious new building on campus that features 254 hotel rooms, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, and more than 25,000 square feet of event space.

My mom and dad went to UCLA, so I grew up regularly visiting the campus, and attending basketball games at Pauley Pavilion (and football games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the site of the Olympic Games).

The visits to UCLA in my youth largely coincided with the era of legendary basketball coach John Wooden (AKA, “The Wizard of Westwood”). I went to the weeklong Wooden basketball camp one summer, a memorable experience.

My mom grew up on Kinnard Ave. in Westwood, not far from campus. She went to University or “Uni” high; one of her classmates was Andy Williams. Dad grew up in Santa Monica, on 21st Place. It was during what I’d call Southern California’s “golden era.”

Westwood has changed from the years when it was a more sleepy “village.” A bookstore we frequented, Campbell’s, is gone, along with the Hamburger Hamlet and other places. (Stan’s donuts is still around). But there are wonderful new additions to what is now a bustling metropolis within the metropolis of greater L.A.

A mix of old and new

The two-year-old Luskin conference center — named after generous UCLA donors — is located on campus. The walls of the handsome brick building are adorned with artwork and photos celebrating UCLA, from iconic Royce Hall to basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabar. The collection also includes nearly 60 pieces by artists who are UCLA alumni and faculty members.

The conference center even has its own robot, “Lara,” to welcome guests and give directions. The lobby includes a concert piano, with live music on some weekdays. The rooms have free, lightning-fast Wi-Fi, new flat-screen TVs, original artwork and wood paneling. There’s 25,000 sq. ft of event space, accommodating up to 960 guests. There’s also a gym, a business center and a campus shuttle.

The Daily Bruin is a robust mix of news, arts, sports and opinion. The UCLA magazine has a feature on basketball great Bill Walton (“still truckin'”) and a feature on the Ethnic Studies Center celebrating its 50th year.

The campus tours are led by students. They last about two hours, including a 30-minute admission presentation and 90-minute walking tour.

While here, we’ll also visit some other sites on campus, Westwood Village and the surrounding neighborhoods. I lived in Westwood during the summer of ’82 when I was working as a correspondent at Time magazine while I was a senior at UC Berkeley.

Along with Cal, UCLA ranks as one of the nation’s top public universities. The overall admission rate for 2018 was around 62 percent, but it was just 59 percent for in-state freshmen, down from 63 percent in 2017, as the Mercury-News points out. Just 12 percent of in-state applicants to UCLA gained admission in 2018, and just 17 percent of would-be Cal students were offered a spot, a decline from last year in both cases.

It is exciting to return to reminisce about the past, but also consider the future.


Los Pellines, Chile: “A magical place”

We have traveled to Chile, visiting Santiago, where I was invited to speak at Diego Portales University about the boom in digital media as a founding editor at CNET. On another trip we crossed the border into Chile from Argentina while visiting the Patagonia region. We enjoyed Torres del Paine National Park.

I did not know that a valley in Chile shared our name, however: “Los Pellines.” ROFLOL!

A video is below. The translation reads:

“Promotional video of Los Pellines valley. Images in aerial view.

We have to take care of this valley because it is threatened by hydroelectric companies that want to destroy it. Our purpose is to take care of this space for the education of children and young people of our country. More than 28,000 children and young people have visited Los Pellines, a magical and fragile space.

A visit to the United Nations: The “knotted gun” vs. our gun culture

photo We enjoyed our visit to the United Nations this week. I joked to my wife that the UN is anathema to western Nevada County, where the gun culture reigns. But on our never-ending quest to introduce our son to multifaceted perspectives, we trudged onward.

The UN tour began with a big security check, then a walk along the promenade of the East River, with artifacts that included a good-sized chunk of the Berlin Wall.

Once inside we were introduced to a presentation on Palestine, “School in a Box,” and “Plumby Doz,” and a Security Council meeting room where UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was present.

The School-in-a-Box has become part of the UNICEF standard response in emergencies, used in many back-to-school operations around the world. The kit contains supplies and materials for a teacher and up to 40 students. The purpose of the kit is to ensure the continuation of children’s education by the first 72 hours of an emergency.

As for helping the hungry, one variety (Plumpy’Doz, by Nutriset) comes in tubs containing a weekly ration. Another (Plumpy Sup, also by Nutriset) comes in one-day sachets. Both can be eaten directly from their containers and are designed to be eaten in small quantities, as a supplement to the regular diet.

At, for each answer you get right, the group donates 10 grains of rice through the World Food Program to end world hunger.

photo-1A highlight of our tour was a mosaic based a on a work by American artist Norman Rockwell, long a favorite attraction on tours of the United Nations that was re-dedicated following its restoration during the recent reconstruction of the headquarters complex.

Entitled “Golden Rule,” the work was presented to the UN in 1985 as a gift on behalf of the United States by then First Lady Nancy Reagan. The half-ton mosaic depicts people of different nationalities standing together with the words “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is inscribed on the surface.

We also were introduced to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. Colombian musician Cesar Lopez created the unique Escopetarra musical instrument and the only escopetarrist in the world out of an AK-47 rifle, which was on display.

In addition, while exiting the UN grounds, we saw the work shown in the photo above — a 45-caliber revolver with its barrel knotted that is titled Non-Violence and is frequently referred to as the “knotted gun.” It was created by Swedish sculptor Carl FredrikReutersward in 1980.

A cast metal version was gifted by Luxembourg to the United Nations in 1988. The piece makes an immediate impression, with its message quite clear. The inspiration for the piece was the death of John Lennon, a friend of the sculptors.

A poignant visit to the 9/11 Museum in New York

Virgil’s words read, “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” A sea of blue surrounds the quote: 2983 individual paper watercolors in different shades of blue pay tribute to the people killed on 9/11 and in the 1993 bombing. (Sierra Foothills Report)

Our son, his friends and his classmates belong to the post 9-11 generation, a period of American history that we are still trying to assimilate. It goes well beyond the more upbeat “iGeneration” label for them, forever changing our nation’s psyche. God bless these kids.

New 9/11 Museum (NBC News)
New 9/11 Museum (NBC News)

As a next-door neighbor who had two children in the ’80s in Marin County before we were parents once joked to me: “When your first child eats dirt in the backyard you get all worked up; when it happens with your second child you just shrug your shoulders.”

Since 9/11 it’s been harder to shrug your shoulders: You are more likely to be protective and prepared, at least in the back of your mind.

In our case, my wife was two months pregnant when I, as an early riser, watched in horror as the first commercial jetliner crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center on CNBC. I went into the bedroom to wake her up, muttering something like “you’ve got to get up and see this,” and we both watched the tragedy unfold all day long — just like much of the planet. A few days later, I flew to New York to be with colleagues who were part of our newsroom at CNET. They were scared. As the plane flew over lower Manhattan to JFK, it was eerie to see the skyline without the two World Trade Center buildings.

Three years ago, when our son was old enough to understand the horrific attack, at least in an abstract way, our family visited the 9/11 Memorial on a trip to New York City. We wanted to honor the victims, and we wanted our son to better understand a milestone event that we knew would define his generation, as Pearl Harbor did for my parents.

Flyers of missing people were posted at hospitals for weeks (NBC News)
Flyers of missing people were posted at hospitals for weeks (NBC News)

We all stared into the nearly acre-size dark pools of water that sit on the original footprint of the North and South Towers. We ran our fingers across some of  the names of the nearly 3,000 men, women, children, as well as the unborn children, who perished in the attacks.

This summer, the 9/11 Memorial Museum opened. This week we returned to visit the Museum.  “In the same way that the fields of Gettysburg, the beaches of Normandy and the waters of Pearl Harbor are places that teach each successive generation of Americans about who we are as a nation, the 9/11 Memorial, built at ground zero itself, will forever be a part of our collective fabric,” summed up Joe Daniels, president and CEO of the Museum.

“No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”

The museum includes the personal stories of courage, loss and resilience, the intimate memories of 2,982 victims and the countless artifacts, images and recorded sounds. We had planned a shorter visit but stayed at the Museum for hours.

In one exhibit, as another blogger summed up,”Virgil’s words read ‘No day shall erase you from the memory of time.’ A sea of blue surrounds the quote: 2983 individual paper watercolors in different shades of blue pay tribute to the people killed on 9/11 and in the 1993 bombing. Artist Spencer Finch created this exhibition titled ‘Trying to remember the color of the sky on that September morning’ especially for this space in the museum.”

The artifacts tell the story in the way that words cannot.

We saw a squeegee handle that became a life saving tool. Six men used it to pry open an elevator door that was stuck, break through sheetrock into a bathroom and escape down the stairs.

Mark Beamer’s watch and Oracle business card. The watch shows the date “11.” (NBC News)

We saw wallets, shoes, memos and keys (smashed) that were recovered from the World Trade Center. We saw a tattered American flag recovered from the World Trade Center. We saw the battered watch of Mark Beamer, the Oracle Corp. worker who helped to overpower hijackers on United Airlines Flight #93. We saw steel beams found in the rubble, including the one that was bent from the impact of the first jetliner.

In another exhibit, we also saw a brick from the “safe house” where Osama Bin Laden was killed. “For many, the brick represents the fall of bin Laden’s reign of terror; a storied piece of solitary rubble denoting renewal of life in a world in which he no longer remains at large,” as the 9/11 blog wrote.

We also learned about the lives of each victim, including recorded messages from their friends and family members. It was heart wrenching.

Only about 40 percent of the remains of the victims have been identified. It is not widely discussed, but the Museum also includes the unidentified remains in a specially built repository. Docents are on hand who were 9/11 survivors. One of them named Mark told us about an eldery woman who showed up to find her relative’s remains.

We have been to the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu, where fuel continues to leak from the wreckage. It is a poignant memory.

Our two visits to the 9/11 Memorial and now the Museum have helped educate us about that fateful day, but it still seems unimaginable.

Jet Blue “Mint”: new competition for bigger airlines

“Welcome aboard”

“Isn’t it ironic we’re driving west to fly east,” our son said as we were driving to SFO to fly nonstop to New York City this week. Good point.

I covered the airline industry for years at newspapers in South Florida and at The S.F. Chronicle: Eastern Airlines under Frank Borman, Air Florida, Pan American World Airways and United Airlines, among others.

I also freelanced as a “stringer” for the New York Times during my years at South Florida newspapers, dictating my stories into an answering matchine in the ’80s — decidedly “low tech.” My stories about Eastern and Air Florida also ran in the Chicago Tribune because of the “snowbirds” who flew to Florida to escape the frigid winters.

The airlines were full of drama in the aftermath of airline deregulation in 1978, and it was a great “beat”: Characters like Col. Borman, the storied history of airlines such as Pan Am, labor unrest, layoffs and Chapter 11 bankruptcies galore. The national dailies wanted a reporter who was “on the scene” to supplement their own coverage.

The reason for driving to SFO this week was to try out a new transcontinental service by Jet Blue called “Mint.” I’ve flown Jet Blue on and off for years to the East Coast: It is a classic post deregulation airline: low cost with signature blue “Terra” chips for in-flight “dining.”

"Good Morning Lake Tahoe" iPhone photo transferred to Facebook in real-time on Instagram
“Good Morning Lake Tahoe” iPhone photo transferred to Facebook in real-time on Instagram

Jet Blue Mint is different: It’s a business-class product for about half the cost of what American and United charge. It is aimed at business travelers on the busy and competitive LAX-JFK and SFO-JFK markets. We used credit-card miles for our tickets, and had a great dinner with some friends in San Francisco before departing the next morning.

The “Mint” experience includes faster check-in, lie-flat seats, free in-flight broadband to stream videos (and to work), 15 inch video screens, multiple in-seat power plugs, fresh food from the New York restaurant Saxon + Parole and organic Blue Marble ice cream, an amenity kit with cool products — all on a new Airbus A321 aircraft.

We each sat in a Mint “suite” across from each other. It is best described as a little “house” with every creature comfort imaginable. The lie-flat seats are great for “red eye” flights. Mint also promises “first bag to carousel” at JFK — and ours were the first two off the plane.

It was one of the best premium services on an airline that I can remember, rivaling an upgraded first-class TWA flight that I once took from LAX to London Heathrow where a prime-rib roast was carved from a cart that was rolled down the aisle on a Boeing 747.

Jet Blue’s Mint is redefining the business class flying experience because it is so much more affordable for executives (about $600 each way for a cash fare, compared with a “four-digit” one-way fare in United and American). I visited with the flight attendants who were happy with the service. They enjoyed their jobs.

Jet Blue’s stock price has been receiving some ratings upgrades recently. The coach experience includes redesigned cabins, with improve lighting, more “living space,” wi-fi, a new entertainment system and in-seat power. Like Southwest, Jet Blue is going to start charging for checked bags.

We mostly fly Southwest, or Delta or United out of Sacramento or Reno for long-haul flights, so the Jet Blue Mint flight was a treat. It won’t come to Sacramento for a long time because the market is so relatively small.

Airline deregulation has been a bumpy road: Now airlines are benefiting from low jet fuel prices and “a la cart” pricing for extras that were once taken for granted. But the best part is the range of choices and competition: truly something for everybody.

Scoop: Reinette Senum is 2014 Elza Kilroy Award recipient

reinette-senum-8-28-14Former mayor and longtime Nevada City community leader Reinette Senum has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Elza Kilroy Award for outstanding community service, Sierra Foothills Report has learned.

The Nevada City Chamber of Commerce presents the prestigious Kilroy award annually to a citizen whose efforts help make Nevada City a better community.

The Chamber’s Board of Directors selected Reinette for the award to honor her dedication and support of Nevada City.

Chamber Executive Director Cathy Whittlesey and, of course, Reinette, confirmed this “scoop.” “Reinette did win, and she is so pleased,” Whittlesey told me today. “She fits so well. She makes it happen, and it comes from her heart.” Reinette also was excited.

An official press release is forthcoming. I’m excited about this, just as I was excited to see another young adult, Paralympic Gold Medalist Evan Strong, named as the Grand Marshal in the Fourth of July parade, which you also read here first. Some pioneering young adults are helping to reshape our community, as I’ve written before.

Previous winners of the Elza Kilroy Award have included David Painter, co-owner of SPD Markets; Duane Strawser, owner of Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop; historian Ed Tyson; former Mayor Steve Cottrell; longtime city engineer Bill Falconi; retired City Manager Beryl Robinson and Whittlesey, among many others.

The award will be presented at the Chamber of Commerce’s 113th Annual Installation and Awards Dinner on January 31th at the Miners Foundry. The Kilroy Award is one of the several annual awards presented by the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce.

Reinette is a 1984 Nevada Union High School graduate who went on to travel widely, visiting some 50 countries, and to become the first women to walk and ski solo across Alaska. She studied film in Southern California before returning to Nevada City in 2004.
She co-founded the Alliance for a Post Petroleum Local Economy (APPLE) and Power Up-NC before being elected to a four-year term on the City Council in 2008. She served as mayor in 2010.

Reinette is a co-founder and former manager of the Nevada City Farmers Market and advocate of the Commercial Street Boardwalk, its acoustic Thursdays and Farm to Table events. She also is the winner of the 2014 Col. William H. “Bill” Lambert award.

The prestigious Lambert Award award is presented annually by the Famous Marching Presidents of Nevada City to recognize outstanding contributions to Nevada City and the Nevada City way of life. It is named in honor of the late Col. William H. Lambert, founder of Nevada City’s annual Constitution Day Parade

The Kilroy award was established in 1969.

“Elza Kilroy worked for the Nevada City Post Office for 32 years,” according to “He was greatly interested in Nevada City affairs and worked tirelessly in improving the town. Yearly he sat on the Fourth of July committee and was once a parade grand marshal.

“Kilroy spearheaded the effort to raise money to restore the old Nevada City Theatre and was on the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital board of directors. His wife, Luvia, taught school for 32 years at Nevada City Elementary.

“A large cross on Drummond Street in Nevada City, lighted every Christmas, was erected by Elza Kilroy in 1932. It is still illuminated each year at holiday time.

“Elza Kilroy put in so much of his time and energy to make Nevada City and Nevada County a better place that the Elza Kilroy Award would eventually be established. It is given each year by the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce to a person who exhibits outstanding community service. Elza died in 1981, as full of honors and as sorely missed by the community he served as had been his father.”