The Last Chinese Chef
by Nicole Mones
Published by Houghton Mifflin
Copyright © 2007
In “The Last Chinese Chef” Nicole Mones introduces us to the meaning and history of Chinese Food set against the backdrop of personal tragedy and shocking discovery.
Maggie McElroy and her husband were both working professionals, he a lawyer and her a food writer. They were both happy together and thought their lives were Ideal. Then, her husband was hit by a car while walking on the sidewalk and he died. Her life was falling apart. The only way Maggie knew how to cope was to throw herself into her work. This strategy seemed to be working for her. Then, nearly a year after her husband’s death, she gets a phone call from one of his old colleagues in China telling her that there has been a paternity case filed against him there. The life and story of her late husband and their seemingly wonderful marriage is now being turned upside down. To find out what the truth really is she needs to go to China to get some answers, but Maggie seems to do everything better when she is working. So her editor assigns her to do a food story on an up and coming Chinese chef, Sam Liang, who instead of following the current wave of fusion/new style cooking is getting back to traditional Chinese food. For Maggie this becomes a journey of discovery on so many levels – personally, culturally, and professionally.
If you love stories of love-loss-and love again, and if you are a bit of a foodie, then you will love this book. I never really cared much for Chinese culinary history, but this book makes me want to go out and find real traditional Chinese food. I loved this book and highly recommend it.