“The Last Chinese Chef”–Exciting News Update!

29 07 2009

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Hello Everyone! I hope your summer is going well. I am happy that everyone seems to be enjoying “The Last Chinese Chef” so much and I have a couple of exciting pieces of news to share with you.

First off, our author, the wonderful Nicole Mones, has agreed to be our judge for this round of Cook The Books! It is always nice when an author gets involved with our group and Nicole, even in the midst of heavy re-writes for her next book has so generously offered her time.

In addition to judging, Nicole wanted to make sure that we had some additional resources for recipes. In her own words, “Honestly, the recipes that would most relate to the novel (i.e. dishes that appear in its pages) are rather difficult  to reproduce. Sometimes this is because they are just complicated; sometimes it is because the chef who gave the recipe wanted to hold back something proprietary (as is the case with beggar’s chicken), and sometimes it is because the chef, despite best efforts to convey the recipe, cannot really do it so well because Chinese cuisine is not recipe-driven; it is taught by apprenticeship. It’s hard for chefs to think in terms of codifying their process in writing. I have so often seen Chinese chefs flummoxed by the effort to create a written recipe. This is the case with Henry Chang’s pork ribs steamed in lotus leaf and his ‘snow cabbage and bean sheets’ – I know him well, we have collaborated on many banquets (organized by me, designed and cooked by him), I have profiled him in the press, and he has really tried to give me some of his recipes. But his skills are so highly developed and instinctual that even following his recipe often does not quite achieve the same dish.”

In light of this, Nicole added a page to her website with some recipes that she has collected in China over the years for us to use as a resource. They can be found at her website under Recipes for “Cook the Books.”. (Here is the link to our page) Nicole says: “Of course some may have their own recipes, I just thought this would be fun. These are people who love to cook and these dishes, though not related to the novel, are all interesting recipes.” 

How great is that?! So if you have not selected a recipe yet, you have another resource for some very delicious sounding dishes to chose from. Remember you have until Friday, August 28th to read the book and post your recipe. (A favor: when you have posted please leave a comment here on the CTB site or email me at debinhawaii@gmail.com and let me know so that I can be sure to include you in our round-up.)  Everyone is welcome and there is still plenty of time to join in.

We look forward to seeing your culinary interpretations of this wonderful book!