The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones

I devoured this book.  Simply put, it was exactly what I wanted to read.  From the very first lines – a quote from the fictional book used as a pillar in The Last Chinese Chef, its warmth and intent was clear.  The fictional book has the same title and is written by one of the main character’s grandfathers as the last Chinese chef of “imperialist” or traditional Chinese cuisine.  The quote (below) starts the book off on the right foot, and you immediately grasp what anyone who loves cooking / food knows, that food = love, and not in that “Eat Pray Love” shit way.

“Apprentices have asked me, what is the most exalted peak of cuisine?  Is it the freshest ingredients, the most complex flavors?  Is it the rustic, or the rare?  It is none of these.  The peak is neither eating nor cooking, but the giving and sharing of food.  Great food should never be taken alone.  What pleasure can a man take in fine cuisine unless he invites cherished friends, counts the days until the banquet, and composes an anticipatory poem for his letter of invitation?”

Fantastic in the way and depth it described Chinese food, and not only geared towards enlightening an American audience about Chinese cuisine but informing any reader about its intricacies, its traditions, its flavors and tastes, The Last Chinese Chef is at its heart a love story, meant to warm the soul.  It’s definitely peaked my interest about cooking Chinese food, might need to find a cookbook at The Strand.

And a foodie movie rec – Soul Kitchen, a lighthearted German comedy – seriously withhold any expectations or preconceived notions as to what a foreign movie typically is – ie. serious – and just enjoy.  It has a banging soul soundtrack, a fantastic and memorable cast of characters with idiosyncratically funny moments and tics, and makes you feel exactly how you would after consuming comfort food – warmed, thoughtful, and just plain old happy.  Foodies and anyone who has any dreamy inkling of one day opening a restaurant, put this one on your queue.

Tribeca Film Festival Blog Post About Soul Kitchen

And here’s a review from Vanity Fair

Sidenote: Leah and I saw this tonight as part of the Tribeca Film Festival (playing hooky from work for an hour) and afterward walked 2 blocks in the rain through the East Village to Veselka and got ourselves some damn good comfort food comprised of pierogis, chicken noodle soup and a red velvet cupcake to top it off.  Sated.


~ by drywoodburstingintoflame on April 26, 2010.

2 Responses to “The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones”

  1. Veselka is great!!:) glad you had a good time. I’ve been wanting to get that book since you mentioned it, but have had a hard time finding it here so far.

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