RICHMOND, Calif. — In the kitchen of her home in Richmond, Calif., cookbook author Kristina Cho is preparing to cook up a delicious treat.
“That’s all that’s needed for the quintessential milk bread.”
As she combines the ingredients and adds them to the stand mixer, she reflects on her love for cooking.
“What I love most about cooking is eating and watching someone else eat the food. I love watching someone who has never eaten a dish I’ve made before, take a bite, and you see that split second in their eyes where they’re like, ‘this is really good.’ It’s my favorite moment.”
Kristina Cho is the author of “Mooncakes and Milk Bread”, an award-winning Chinese cookbook. Her love for cooking started by watching her family in the kitchen.
“I feel like I was born into it. My grandparents owned Chinese restaurants when I was growing up, so I was always surrounded by really good cooks. is that at the age of 13 I started to cook myself. Baking has given me a lot of solitude and independence in the kitchen.
Kristina pursued a career in architecture, but always kept her love for baking. She used it as a hobby to help her de-stress from her career.
This led her to start her own food blog, called “Eat Cho Food”.
“I got it because I’ve always loved reading food blogs.”
After a while, her blog started gaining popularity and her audience grew.
“More people seemed interested in the food I was sharing. I see Instagram and the blog as a way to reach people who are interested in what I write. But it always amazes me that there are people there.”
When Kristina began to feel dissatisfied with her work in architecture, she focused more on her blog.
“I remember the day I decided to quit my job. At the same time, my current literary agent emailed me and said, ‘I think you have a really good voice and you should write a cookbook.” I just took it as a sign from the universe saying ‘hey, you should try this.'”
Kristina saw the need for a cookbook that covered more than just surface Chinese cooking. She wanted to make sure to add context and culture to the recipes.
“When I got my book contract, I took it as a very big responsibility. To be able to share the stories and the history of Chinese pastry.”
Her cookbook, “Mooncakes and Milk Bread,” has since been named to a number of “best” cookbook lists and even won two prestigious James Beard Awards.
One of Kristina’s signature products is “The Almighty Pineapple Bun”.
“My first instinct when I wrote the top note for the pineapple buns is how much my dad’s favorite they are. And how my dad would save money to go to bakeries in Hong Kong to buy a pineapple bun because it was a treat.”
Kristina believes her journey as a second-generation Chinese-American has shaped her in many ways.
“I think writing this book helped me recognize that I have all these different sides to me.”
Both of her parents are from Hong Kong and Kristina herself grew up in Ohio.
“I’m really a Midwestern kid. And now I’ve lived in the Bay Area for almost nine years, so I have all these different sides of my life that I try to express through my food.”
Visit Kristina’s blog and learn more about her, her recipes and her book here.