A conversation with Chef Ken Hom

Interviewed by Louisa Chu

Podcast courtesy of WBEZ’s Chicago Amplified

Ken Hom – the Chinese-American chef, television personality, best-selling author, philanthropist, and world traveler – grew up extremely poor in Chicago. He started working at 11 years-old, washing dishes at King Wah restaurant. It was there on Chinatown’s Wentworth Avenue that the owner – a family friend he called his uncle – first taught him to cook.

Hom later studied Art at UC Berkeley. To help pay his tuition he gave cooking lessons, first private Italian pasta making classes and later Chinese cooking at the new California Culinary Academy. One of his many notable students was a young Charlie Trotter; another protégé was Ming Tsai.

Hom’s first bestselling book, “Chinese Cookery” was first published in 1984 and has never gone out of print. It’s sold over 1 million copies in 14 translations. It was this companion book to the BBC television series of the same name that established Hom’s career. He has written 30 books – on Chinese, Thai, and “East-West” cooking – and has hosted five BBC and an award-winning Korean television series to date.

The numbers climb far higher with Hom’s line of cookware. Over seven million of his woks and accessories have sold in 59 countries worldwide since 1986. “One in every eight households in the U.K. now has a Ken Hom wok,” he said during a visit to Chicago.

His latest book, Ken Hom – Complete Chinese Cookbook, will be released in the US in September 2011.

This event will be an opportunity to learn more about Ken Hom as interviewed by his friend Louisa Chu.

Louisa is a chef and writer. She’s currently the Chicago Editor for BlackboardEats. Her work has appeared in Gourmet, Food Network, Travel Channel, PBS, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times. She graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, trained in restaurants around the world including El Bulli, Alain Ducasse in Paris, and Alinea, but first learned to cook in her family’s Chinese-American chop suey restaurants in Chicago.

Program  hosted at Kendall College.