How to celebrate the First Annual “National Dumpling Day” was a problem until I was invited to be a guest judge for the 12th Annual Chef One Dumpling Eating Contest, which is one of the highlights of the 2015 Chef One NYC Dumpling Festival. This year’s festival will be held from noon to 5pm on September 26th in Manhattan’s Sara D. Roosevelt Park (at Houston Street next to the Bowery branch of Whole Foods).
Unhappy and failing in high school Yong Bing Ngen (楊彬源) decided he was ready to set out and explore his future on his own. He announced his intention to his schoolmates one day and left school the next to work at his brother-in-law’s restaurant as a dishwasher. Without a definite plan his mother was concerned for his prospects, and advised him to learn a trade. He pondered her counsel while doing dishes and took a peek at the cooks in the kitchen. It was a “kopi tiam” or a family-run restaurant serving local Chinese food. He was intrigued by the activities in the kitchen and decided cooking was going to be his trade. From this humble beginning Chef Yong went on to become one of Singapore’s most innovative Chinese chefs, and chef owner of the Majestic Restaurant and Jing.
After I published my homemade mooncake post, my dear friend Lee Chin Hock, who is now living in Hong Kong, left a comment on my Facebook post. He sent me links to a story and pictures of a collection of “innovative” mooncakes that are all the rage among the young and hip in Hong Kong.
A few of my friends from downtown visited me in my kitchen on a Saturday night a few weeks ago. It was a rather unusual gathering. I was sharing with them some basic Chinese cooking techniques by way of demonstration. More often then not I would simply be cooking to entertain these friends. But on this occasion I had specifically been requested to show them stir-frying technique before we sat down to dinner. As I collected the ingredients and was explaining the different sauces and cooking wine, my neighbor Kim dropped in unannounced to borrow some fresh cilantro for her guacamole. (She is now officially a family member!) In her normal inquisitive manner she proceeded to ask me if there was a basic set of Chinese sauces and ingredients one should assemble as a “starter kit” for Chinese cooking?