Monday, May 08, 2006

the women behind the book New Asian Cuisine

New Asian Cuisine is the latest release to join the ever-growing list of cookbooks. However, what sets this book apart is that it is a compliation of recipes from over 100 celebrity chefs and "introduces the Asian version of the new USDA food pyramid." It's not only a cookbook, but also a handy reference guide to have in the kitchen.

Wendy Chan and Grace Niwa are the two forces behind this great book.

How did you come up with the concept for the book?
We are strong advocates for Asian cuisine, professionally and personally, and wanted to create a book to spark more interest in Asian food and beverages on all levels. Wendy and I have worked with chefs and the food and beverage industry through experience with our clients from our independent businesses.

When the new USDA Food Pyramid was introduced we discussed how it would be interesting to do an Asian version of this and that thought quickly snowballed into bringing on well known Asian Chefs as well as non-Asian chefs who have a love of Asian Food to participate in this effort by providing recipes of what we call "New Asian Cuisine". These recipes allow home cooks to prepare wonderful Asian food in the comforts of their own home when not dining out.

What was the most difficult/easiest part in putting it together?

We had the passion but we had never created a cookbook before. This was really a grassroots effort with the help of so many chefs and enthusiastic individuals that also shared our vision. The challenge was editing over 300 recipes and making sure that all content and measurements were consistent in style. Since most chefs cook in larger portions and we were trying to stay within the Asian Food Pyramid guidelines for most of our recipes, we had to modify the recipe and contacting chefs is no easy task! We had to contact and verify recipes with over 100 chefs both nationally and internationally! We also had to test these recipes at home to make sure the recipes worked.

Another huge undertaking was raising funds to produce the book. There were many challenges and barriers along the way and we continue to face these every day. The best part was the team effort that went into our book and how fast and efficiently we were able to work together. We were able to conceptualize,produce, raise funds, design, get the book printed and in major bookstores all within the year.

What do you hope readers get out of your book?

New Asian Cuisine is a book you can bring along when food shopping and traveling. It's not just meant for the kitchen. We want our readers to be inspired by our chefs and use their curiousity in trying new Asian ingredients.

New Asian Cuisine is also not a dieter's cookbook. The recipes adhere to the principles of the Eastern eating philosophy of maintaining a balanced lifestyle and moderation. We want to let our readers know that they also can create these wonderful Asian dishes in their own home and purchase Asian ingredients in their neighborhood. For this purpose, we have provided over 1400 Asian supermarkets, malls and online stores across the US on our website at

To differentiate ourselves from other cookbooks, we included a culinary passport to fabulous dining around the world to capture the readers' fine dining experiences at our chefs' restaurants. Also included is a restaurant directory of all of our participating chefs from around the globe.

Finally, we hope that our readers will be excited by the culinary contribution of the chefs that define a new way of thinking about Asian Cuisine.

What was the most interesting thing you learned?

The most interesting thing we learned during the creation of this book were from the personal stories from the chefs about the recipes they submitted. Many chose to send in their favorite home-style dishes that were from their childhood that reach deep into their cultural background. They also refashioned many traditional Asian dishes using Western culinary techniques and ingredients and always adding a heavy dose of creativity to turn out refined, innovative, contemporary plates.

Are either of you experts in the kitchen when it comes to Asian cooking?

We are both Asian food enthusiasts and absolutely passionate about this industry!

by Wendy Chan and Grace Niwa

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