WHAT DO ROBERT BURNS, haggis, lion dancers, and the Chinese New Year have in common? That would be Toddish McWong, aka Todd Wong, a fifth-generation Chinese Canadian. Wong created Gung Haggis Fat Choy, a Scottish and Chinese cross-cultural holiday that has spread from Canada to China and Scotland, and earned him an introduction to the Scottish First Minister. In 1993, as a student at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Wong was asked to slip on a kilt and help out with a campus Robert Burns supper, a nod to the eighteenth-century Scottish poet.
Wong took a shine to the poetry recitations—including Burns’s “Address to a Haggis”—but not to the music (bagpipes) or the food (haggis: sheep innards minced with oatmeal and simmered in the animal’s stomach). He donned the tartan, but complemented his costume with elements of the Lunar Chinese New Year—he covered his face with a lion mask and carried Chinese food instead of haggis. “I thought, This is a really interesting way to look at multiculturalism—to flip stereotypes. So I called myself Toddish McWong.”
He hosted the first public Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner in Vancouver, BC, in 1999, celebrating Scottish and Chinese cultures. And people from all over the region have flocked to it, including Bill McFadden of Seattle’s Caledonian and St. Andrew’s Society (he’s Clan MacLaren). McFadden convinced Wong to bring the event to Western Washington in 2007. Since then hundreds of Seattleites have showed up to devour deep-fried haggis wontons, sing along to “My Haggis-Chow Mein Lies Over the Ocean,” and hear McWong perform his “Address to a Haggis” rap, surely the way the Scottish bard intended.