It all started with a wok, a roll and a dream…
Asian cooking can be intimidating…but it’s not. Take it from me, I had to re-learn how to make it as an adult. You see, everything I know about life and cooking I learned in the kitchen from my late mother Leeann Chin.
My mother immigrated from China to Minnesota in 1956, working as a seamstress making 50 cents an hour. She had always loved to cook and one day threw a luncheon for her sewing clients in the early 70s. They were blown away by her dishes, authentic Chinese cuisine they had never tasted before as chow suey and chow mein were really the only things available to Minnesotans at the time.
One thing led to another and they encouraged her to teach classes and cater. A socialite friend of hers arranged for the owner of the Minnesota Twins and Sean Connery to invest in her first restaurant. It was an instant hit. She ended up selling her company to General Mills at one point only to buy it back and grow the chain into a $50 million company. She never even went to high school.
This is where I come in.
About 15 years ago, I was in living in Los Angeles working as a film and television marketing executive and I had completely forgotten how to cook (I could still make 5,000 shrimp toast, no problem, but a dinner party was a whole other thing). My favorite thing to make for dinner was reservations. I was so busy trying to make my mother proud by succeeding in my marketing career, I had actually done the opposite by forgetting how to cook.
I decided to have some clients over for dinner and had a panic attack because I didn’t know what I was doing. I called my mother for advice but instead of giving me advice she jumped on a plane with frozen lemon chicken on dry ice. Once she arrived on my doorstep, she cooked the entire dinner and kept up the illusion that I had cooked the whole thing by myself. That’s just the kind of mom she was. During that trip, my mother opened my refrigerator to find only champagne and yogurt. She was mortified and set out to teach me how to cook again.
Through a series of dinner parties for my friends, my passion for Asian cooking was reignited. Our friends said, "You really make Asian cooking look easy, like I could do it myself." Feeling inspired and back in touch with my culinary roots, I quit my job and my mother and I co-authored a Chinese cookbook together, Everyday Chinese Cooking. From there, we started a Pan-Asian catering business called Double Happiness Catering.
In between our catering gigs, we were lucky enough to travel to China together to co-host a Food Network Special called "My Country My Kitchen" and to New York for our numerous appearances together on The Today Show. The next natural step was to do a cooking show so we co-hosted the national PBS cooking series, "Double Happiness," which was a mother daughter Chinese cooking show shot in Hawaii.
My mother was the toughest boss I’ve ever had (and believe me, I had some tough ones working in Hollywood all those years). She set the same standards for me as she did for herself and I never felt like I was living up to her expectations, "Your eggrolls are not wrapped firmly enough," "You should make double the pleats on that shu mei." One time on our cooking show I said, “If you don’t have Asian hot sauce, you could use Mexican hot sauce instead, right mom?" Her deadpan response on camera was, "no." I recognize now that she just wanted me to be the best I could be.
With my mother as commander-in-chief, and I as her willing apprentice, our pan-Asian catering business took off and we were soon doing star-studded parties and high fashion events. She realized I would never be able to handle the cooking alone if she was always there to lead me, so she announced one day out of the blue that she was going to Europe for three months with a friend. I was left to my own devices and a deep fryer and was forced to figure things out on my own. That summer, I finally sprouted my culinary wings and flew from her bird’s nest soup.
I retired from catering when I became pregnant with our own Double Happiness, twins Dylan and Becca, and focused my energy on my blog and cookbooks -- 300 Best Rice Cooker Recipes, Everyday Thai Cooking and Everyday Chinese Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes from My Mother’s Kitchen. You will find a cookbook section on my blog with more information on my books.
When the twins grew out of their toddler phase, I launched a new catering business called Wok Star Catering. Like my blog, Wok Star Catering specializes in all styles of Asian cuisine.
My mother unfortunately passed away six years ago. I’m so honored to carry her torch by making Asian cuisine accessible and relatable for real people, on real schedules and real budgets through my blog and cookbooks. I try to provide short cuts and substitutions to make you feel as empowered as possible to cook Asian food along with practical ways to purchase the ingredients you’ll need. I personally test all of my recipes (with the help of my twins) to make sure they’re easy to follow with delicious and authentic results.
Since my mother passed away, I’ve been on many extraordinary culinary adventures on my own such as cooking at The White House in 2013 for the Annual Easter Egg Roll to serving as a guest judge on Iron Chef America. I also competed recently on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen (what a hoot) and appeared on The Real on Fox and The Hallmark Channel on behalf of my latest cookbook which honors my mom. You can view my media clips in the media section of my blog. I also went on a six-city tour with Macy’s to promote my new cookbook on behalf of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. I always strive to take my blog followers along with me on my cooking adventures and post recipes and anecdotes inspired by my travels and experiences.
I hope you enjoy my blog as much as I enjoy creating it. If I can do it, you can do it!
Chef Katie Chin
Celebrating Maria Menounos at her cookbook launch party
Dishing with Kyle Richards from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Getting crazy with my bestie Jeannie Mai during my apperance on The Real
Hanging with the first family during the annual White House Easter Egg Roll
Making it work with Project Runway’s Tim Gunn
Me and my mom during one of our Today Show segments
Styling with Fashion Goddess Nina Garcia on my last cookbook media tour
Trading Kitchen Tips with Jonathan Scott of Property Brothers
On the set of Cutthroat Kitchen
Working it at the Hello Kitty Spam Musubi workshops
Honored to be a guest judge on Iron Chef America
Modeling (LOL) for my BFF’s Christos Garkinos’ clothing line on Good Day LA
My cookbooks include “Everyday Chinese Cooking” and “300 Best Rice Cooker Recipes,” the award-winning best seller, “Everyday Thai Cooking” and my newest cookbook, “Everyday Chinese Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes from My Mother’s Kitchen” is coming out on April 26th!