Listen to this article

By Gia Miller

Photography by Justin Negard

Waiters/waitresses are the world’s oldest influencers – they tell us what to eat (and drink) whenever we dine out. And we often take their advice without watching hours of their videos to determine if they’re trustworthy. We sat down with some of our local influencers to get to know the folks who influence our choices.

Johnson Cheng
“A little of everything,” 8 years
Tengda, Katonah

Do you consider yourself an influencer?
I don’t. I think food is a personal preference. It’s always about what you like. I can give you advice. I can give you a suggestion. But I can never influence what you really want.

What is it like to work as a server?
It’s about being honest. If the food is going to be spicy, tell them it’s going to be spicy. I’ll explain the different flavors because we have a lot of authentic ingredients and dishes. My number one rule is to always be honest.

What’s the best recommendation you’ve ever made?
A customer came in with her son, and he hadn’t had Asian cuisine before because he has severe allergies. She told me the situation, and I recommended something for her son, and he liked it. Every time they came back, they’d ask for me. They actually bought me a gift for Christmas.

What’s a recommendation you wish more people would take you up on?
Try the Thai curry! It’s good with a lot of things – noodles, rice – and it has so much flavor. It’s also great with any kind of protein.

What do you like about working at Tengda?
The coolest thing about working here is the customers. I have worked in Asian restaurants where they treat the employees like they’re working at a McDonald’s. But at Tengda, the people who come in actually treat you like family.

What’s your favorite dish?
The Thai curry sauce. You can pick and choose different noodles and proteins, but I like it with just rice, white rice. The sauce is so good that I like it by itself. But, sometimes I’ll throw shrimp or salmon on it.

Editor-in-Chief at Connect to Northern Westchester | Website | + posts

Gia Miller is an award-winning journalist and the editor-in-chief/co-publisher of Connect to Northern Westchester. She has a magazine journalism degree (yes, that's a real thing) from the University of Georgia and has written for countless national publications, ranging from SELF to The Washington Post. Gia desperately wishes schools still taught grammar. Also, she wants everyone to know they can delete the word "that" from about 90% of their sentences, and there's no such thing as "first annual." When she's not running her media empire, Gia enjoys spending quality time with friends and family, laughing at her crazy dog and listening to a good podcast. She thanks multiple alarms, fermented grapes and her amazing husband for helping her get through each day. Her love languages are food and humor.