WESTLAKE, Ohio – Kristina Cho, the founder of the food blog “Eat Cho Food” of the same name, published her first cookbook this year. “Mooncakes and Milk Bread” focuses on Chinese bakeries and bakery products.
The cookbook, released Oct. 12, draws on Cho’s experience developing recipes for her blog, her family cooking habits, and a life in the restaurant industry. Cho’s grandparents lived in the AsiaTown neighborhood of Cleveland and owned several Chinese restaurants in Greater Cleveland, including one called Tai Pan in Cho’s hometown of Westlake.
“I didn’t go to culinary school, but grew up in my family very focused on food. My grandparents moved to Cleveland from Hong Kong in the late 60s and a very common career path [for immigrants] works in the restaurant industry, ”Cho said. “I grew up watching them and my parents cook my whole life. Food has always been a big part of my life.
This eventually became “Eat Cho Food,” which Cho launched in 2017 while working as an architect and interior designer in California, where she is now based. Although she attended architectural school, graduating from the University of Cincinnati, Cho said she was always more fulfilled working on her blog in parallel.
The blog gained traction, Cho said, and a literary agent reached out to a cookbook at a time when she was questioning her career.
“It was sort of the universe telling me that I was ready for a change,” Cho said. “At that time, I was very unhappy with my job and was looking for different options to make ‘Eat Cho Food’ a full time job for me.”
After landing a contract with Harper Horizon, Cho set to work on “Mooncakes and Milk Bread”. She said her family supported her career change and her work with food.
“It’s about perpetuating culture, sharing culture through food and writing. It’s something they respect a lot, ”Cho said. “In a way, my grandparents did the same – leaving behind everything they knew in Hong Kong to come here and do something bigger and better. “
While writing her book, Cho worked on perfecting recipes for buns. She faced a challenge in March 2020, when the pandemic led to closures and a craze for baking hobbies exploded around the world.
Shortages of bread flour and other ingredients followed suit, and Cho said she needed to plan ahead.
“I stocked up on 50 pound bags of bread flour,” Cho said. “But, the advantage of writing a book during the pandemic was that I had a lot of concentration. There was nothing else to do. I stayed home and baked buns all day.
The book focuses on a basic recipe for pain au lait, called “The mother of all pain au lait”, as the basis from which sweet and savory buns are developed in the following chapters.
“I think this recipe is a really versatile bread recipe,” Cho said. “I really love, now that the book is out, seeing people making it and mastering it – and creating their own unique versions… I was able to give people all the tools to make this really wonderful basic bread. The fact that you feel comfortable enough to incorporate your own ingredients and flavor combinations is amazing to me. It is a very powerful recipe.
Along with its recipes for sweet and savory baked goods, “Mooncakes and Milk Bread” also highlights Chinese bakeries in the United States, through intermittent articles in the book.
It also includes a report on a Clevelander close to Cho and her family – a family friend named Aunt Lydia, whose homemade baking influenced Cho’s family baking habits.
“I had a very unique challenge in being the first book to comprehensively cover this topic,” Cho said. “I wanted to give it a bit of context and add a bit more humanity to the book.”
Now Cho is working on a second cookbook: a collection of tasty recipes that celebrates extended family dinners and cooking for loved ones. She expects the book to arrive in 2023.
You can find more information about “Mooncakes and Milk Bread” – as well as many tasty recipes – on Cho’s blog and website, eatchofood.com.
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