In this episode of The Archive Project, we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with a feast of a conversation about Chinese American cookbooks, cuisine, and the history of Chinatowns. The episode is entered on two great cookbooks released last year: Mooncakes and Milkbread: Sweet and Savory Recipes Inspired by Chinese Bakeries by Kristina Cho, and Mister Jiu’s In Chinatown: Recipes and Stories from the Birthplace of Chinese American Food by chef Brandon Jew and writer Tienlon Ho. This trio came together with writer and editor Chris Ying to talk about their books, their experiences growing up Chinese American, and the role of Chinatowns.
There are vibrant Chinatowns in pretty much every major city in the world. The panel talks about the Chinatowns they knew growing up, and remember the iconic dishes of their upbringing. Their two cookbooks contain not only recipes but celebrate the history of Chinatowns and Chinese bakeries, respectively, and of Chinese American cooking.
Food and cooking and eating are so much about nostalgia and memory, but also about connection – not only back in time, but connecting people with each other. Chinatowns have been a vital part of creating that connection, through food, and it’s a treat to offer this conversation celebrating Chinese American cuisine.
Kristina Cho is a Bay Area–based food blogger, recipe developer, and cooking instructor. She’s originally from Cleveland, Ohio, where she grew up in her family’s Chinese restaurant. Cooking and sharing culture through food were always a huge part of her life. Before becoming a food blogger, Kristina studied and worked in architecture and interior design. Architecture instilled in her a designer’s attention to detail, a disciplined approach to iteration, and creative artistry. She has dedicated her professional career to making, teaching, writing about, and photographing her unique interpretations of Chinese food—everything from noodle soups to dumplings and, of course, baked goods.
Tienlon Ho (何天蘭) is a writer originally from Columbus, Ohio, where the best Chinese food was always in her family’s kitchen. She lives with Jon and Quin in San Francisco.
Brandon Jew (周英卓) is a native San Franciscan and the chef and co-owner with Anna Lee (the Missus) of Mister Jiu’s, a Chinese American restaurant in the heart of North America’s oldest Chinatown.