Along with the normal stressors of opening a restaurant, chef-owner Khailing Neoh also had a camera crew following her around as she prepared to open dim sum spot Sum Bar (307 E. Washington Street, Greenville, South Carolina). Undercurrent Film Co. was with Neoh as she prepared to open her first restaurant, a career that her family warned her against because both her parents and grandparents had owned restaurants after immigrating to the United States from China. They didn’t understand her decision to quit her job in engineering.

The resulting short film, Great Wall, is about a restaurant, yes, but it’s also about family, Chinese American identity, and community. And on Saturday, June 8, Undercurrent Film Co. won a James Beard Award for the piece — the first James Beard Award for Greenville.

Director Rioin Oshiro says, “This win is the culmination of those who invested their time and energy into making this film. Piecing this story together gave me a deeper understanding of food and what it truly means to me. Food has the power to bring communities together through a shared experience. That’s how this journey began. Receiving our first James Beard Award gives us a platform to share similar stories like that of Great Wall. With this honor, I have a newfound responsibility to tell the untold stories in the food and beverage industry. Voices patiently waiting to be heard.”

Sum Bar opened in January 2023 and serves traditional Chinese fare from Neoh’s family, like shumai, dumplings, char sui pork, and more.

Great Wall is available to watch on Vimeo.

Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Awards. Eater is partnering with the James Beard Foundation to livestream the awards in 2024. All editorial content is produced independently of the James Beard Foundation.

2024-06-12T18:28:00Z dg43tfdfdgfd