Go to almost any Los Angeles area community fair and festival and you will find them: Asian-style grilled chicken and chicken skewers. The flavors and styles – Thai BBQ, Chinese, Japanese and Filipino – are sold by a variety of mom and pop vendors as well as restaurants. It was no different at the Sunset Junction festival, where sweaty music fans had more grilled and barbecued chicken choices than they could shake a sticky skewer at. Of course, with the festival now cancelled, all those other vendors have to find a place to ago. On Thursday, Gloria Sohacki, who works at Central City Action Committee, an Angeleno Heights nonprofit that works with youth and runs a graffiti clean up crew, spent part of her day helping out one of those Sunset Junction vendors that Sohacki has dubbed the “Chicken Lady.” The woman, a Thai immigrant whose first name is Sae, had paid $1,300 for a Sunset Junction festival booth and had ordered about $2,000 worth chicken and other supplies to sell at this weekend’s event. “Not only is she out the money for the booth but she has already spent money on the product she would have been selling,” Sohacki said.
Sohacki said Sae has been a familiar face at Central City, where she used to send her two children and then provided some of her chicken for some center events. Sohacki and others at the center nicknamed Sae the “Chicken Lady.” In recent years, Sohacki has helped Sae, whose English skills are limited, fill out and submit complicated festival applications and health department forms required of food vendors. Sae submitted her Sunset Junction application and $1,300 fee back in April, Sohacki said. On Thursday afternoon, Sae managed to talk to a Sunset Junction organizer who told her the staff would meet and start working on refunds next week. Despite talk of a refund, Sae was still on the hook for the $2,000 worth of food and supplies she had bought for the festival. What to do?
After calling around, Sae found that she might be able to get into another festival. After Sohacki helped fill out and submit the paperwork, Sae’s application was approved. So, this weekend, instead of dishing out Thai and Chinese food in Silver Lake, The Chicken Lady will be found in La Palma at Orange County’s Amazing Thai Festival.