The Tasting Panel magazine

February 2014

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february 2014 / the tasting panel / 103 CHEFS: ONE-ON-ONE WITH MERRILL SHINDLER P hilippe Chow is the embodiment of the American Dream—a life out of Horatio Alger with a Chinese subtext. He grew up poor in Guangzhou, China, where he cooked only a little. He moved to Hong Kong, where he cooked a lot. He headed for New York City, where he worked for Michael Chow (no relation) for 25 years, before leaving to open irst a highly acclaimed restaurant named Philippe on the Upper East Side, and then in Beverly Hills. His signature dish is his hand-pulled noodles—a seeming mathematical impossibility of which Philippe Chow is a master. A culinary sleight of hand that would have amazed his small village in China, as much as it amazes the rich and famous of New York and Beverly Hills. Merrill Shindler: Who did most of the cooking in your house? Philippe Chow: Mom did the cooking when I was growing up. I used to watch mom cook. My hobby was hanging out in the kitchen. What were you allowed to cook? Only the rice. But I wanted to try making the ish and the crabs and the vegetables. How did you do your cooking? I would have to go get wood. We did our cooking over the ireplace. What inspired you to go to Hong Kong? I stayed till I was 15 years old. Then, with one friend, we swam to Hong Kong. China was a dead-end for me. I had dreams. Hong Kong was the place. Were you overwhelmed? There were so many lights. I had never seen anything like it. I was in Hong Kong for ive years. I worked as a furniture maker, in a garment factory, as a delivery man. I got a job in a kitchen. I learned the basic skills. I knew this was my life. What did you think of American-style Chinese food? I was very surprised by what people ate. I had never seen Chinese food like it. It was "so-called Chinese." Is it possible to cook authentic Chinese food in America? It wasn't then. It is now. Now, you can ind ingredients that are as good as or better than those in China. You go to Chinatown, the quality is excellent if you choose well. What do you cook at home with your son and three daughters? We make chicken with the bones in it. Steamed whole ish, steamed spareribs. They cook with me. They are learning well. Which tool is essential for you in the kitchen? The wok and a powerful stove. So different from the wood-burning cooking I grew up with. Philippe Chow THE CREATOR OF PHILIPPE IN NEW YORK AND BEVERLY HILLS DISHES ON AUTHENIC CHINESE AND "SO- CALLED CHINESE" CUISINE

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