July/August Cook The Books Pick: “The Last Chinese Chef” by Nicole Mones

7 07 2009

This is Deb from Kahakai Kitchen, just popping in to say that I hope you all are enjoying our lastest CTB pick, “The Last Chinese Chef” by Nicole Mones. I for one, have been learning a lot about the amazing history and culture of food and cooking in China and am dazzled by thoughts of what to make for this round which ends on August 28. 

In this foodie novel, a recently widowed American food writer finds solace, love and of course incredible food during a visit to China to clear up a paternity claim against her late husband’s estate. Her editor gives her an assignment to profile a rising star chef, Sam Liang and she is drawn deep into China’s culinary world, learning and being transformed by the cuisine, Sam’s colorful family and Sam himself.



As a companion to the book, here are some links that you might find helpful and interesting.

Nicole Mones website with information on the author and her books.

Of special interest on the site:

Q&A with Mones about the book

Reviews of “The Last Chinese Chef” (in case you have not made up your mind to join us yet!)

For Food Lovers: Where to eat in China as well as descriptions of the food and recipes cooked in the book.

Also of interest an original essay by Nicole Mones: “Where Food and Words Meet: A Literary Sub-School of Chinese Cuisine Survives against the Odds that is on the Powell’s Books website (my favorite bookstore, next to Rachel’s of course!)

Remember you have until Friday, August 28th to read the novel, cook a dish inspired by the book and post it on your blog.  No blog but still want to join us?! No problem, just email me (debinhawaii@gmail.com) and send me your write-up and pictures and I’ll post them for you!  Everyone is welcome!

I’ll post more details on our judge and judging as I have them. Feel free to leave comments on this post discussing the book and what you think about it. (Since we all read at different speeds, make a note if your comment contains a “spoiler” about the plot please!)

We can’t wait to see the amazing dishes you come up with!  

Happy Summer!



17 responses

8 07 2009

Very excited about this challenge! Thanks Deb for this pick.

8 07 2009

I have just started this book. It’s very good so far. I loved having the advance notice on the selections too, made it much easier to get the books on time and buying them together saved on shipping. Thanks!

8 07 2009

This novel was so good! I sped through it and now need to go back and read it at a more leisurely pace. I learned so much about Chinese culture and cooking. I love that traditional Chinese greeting “Have you eaten yet?”. Great pick, Deb.

9 07 2009

I LOVED IT DEB! Finished it in 2 days (thanks to my computer problems)…I did go to the website, too…AH, what to make!?

10 07 2009
Amy Green/Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free

I love the world I fall into when I open this book. I think I’m on the 6th chapter and I so desperately want Sam to cook for me, to sit in his kitchen, to watch him cook. Thanks for picking this book…can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with for their dish.

12 07 2009

Is it just me (and my chef-crush on him) or does anyone else picture Ming Tsai as Sam in their minds when reading the book? 😉

14 07 2009

I’m loving this book! And Deb…Ming Tsai works for me! I was kind of seeing “Sam” from the show “Quincy”, but I like your minds’ eye better! I can’t wait for the banquet!

16 07 2009

Love Ming, but I was thinking more along the lines of power yoga dude Rodney Yee.

18 07 2009

I love this! I am going to check for this at barnes. I hope I am not too late to join in.

18 07 2009

Iola–you have until the end of August to read and post so I hope you can join us!

Cantbelieveweate & Rachel–also good Sam “vision choices” for sure! 😉

18 07 2009

I was able to buy the book today at barnes and noble. So now I am good to go…fun….

19 07 2009

I’m about half-way through the book, and I am entranced by the story. I would love to have Sam cook for me, too!

21 07 2009

I loved this book so much that I bought her other two and read and enjoyed those as well.
How will we find the blogs that have the book-inspired recipes posted?

27 07 2009

Great question Clivia! The best way is for everyone to leave a comment here once they have posted a dish. Then we’ll have the round-up after 8/28 as well. Glad you liked the book!



29 07 2009

What a book! I loved it! Now to start cooking. I have a few ideas but I’m not sure how to pull them together.

5 08 2009
28 08 2009

Deb, I really enjoyed the book. I made a dish inspired by it and plan to publish my post tomorrow.

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