Katie Chin is a chef, cookbook author and television personality. After gaining her reputation with the success of her catering company, she went on to host Double Happiness, the PBS series, alongside her mother and culinary inspiration, Leeann Chin. She is passionate about Asian cuisine and aims to spread the word that great Asian cooking can be achieved at home. She lives in Los Angeles.
Q: What made you want to become a chef? Was there an element of your family life growing up that led you to this career choice?
A: My late mother Leeann Chin was an award-winning chef and restaurateur in Minnesota, where we grew up. Although I always helped in the kitchen, I had forgotten how to cook when I became an adult – I was an executive doing film marketing. Mortified, my mother set out to teach me again and made frequent trips to LA to cook for my friends and me. My friends told us that we made Asian cooking look so easy and encouraged us to write a cookbook together. One thing led to another and I quit my job to write “Everyday Chinese Cooking” with my mom and we formed a catering business together called “Double Happiness Catering.” We even co-hosted a PBS show together. I will always be indebted to my mom for reigniting my passion for cooking.
Q: What’s the best cooking advice you’ve ever received?
A: To be fearless. Sometimes the best recipes come out of trial and error.
Q: Who or what is behind your culinary inspiration?
A: My mother and now my children. I want to install a sense of healthy eating in them even as toddlers.
Q: What’s the first meal you ever learned to cook on your own?
A: I made my mom’s Curry Chicken recipe in my dorm room and had a dinner party. Even though we had to sit in the hallway, everyone enjoyed.
Q: What are the three tools you can’t live without while cooking a meal?
A: A sharp knife, a sturdy nonstick spatula and cooking chopsticks.
Q: What ingredient are you most willing to splurge on?
A: Dried Chinese scallops.
Q: What’s one budget item that should be on every home gourmet’s grocery list?
A: Sriracha sauce.
Q: What is the best dish you’ve ever made?
A: The Peking Duck I made for my husband’s birthday because it was filled with love.
Q: Is there a chef that you really admire or look up to?
A: I truly admire Martin Yan as he broke a lot of barriers and paved the way for Asian chefs.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to an amateur chef?
A: At least once a month go to a hole in the wall ethnic restaurant a friend has recommended. You’ll be amazed at what you discover and will leave feeling inspired.
– Emma Stratigos