Macy’s Culinary Council Chef Ming Tsai is about to hit the road for his latest U.S. cookbook tour. I caught him just before he left to dish about the new book, his ongoing love affair with food and his famous Halloween Chili.
AM: Hi Ming. Congrats on your new book! Was it your idea to add the how-to-videos?
MT: Yes, and the QR codes. It virtually comes full circle for me. I earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering, so there's a "tech" background. With over fifteen years of cooking on TV, I've also learned the best way to pull a recipe together is to show how it's done. Some techniques are harder to describe, like the nuances of rolling sushi.
AM: Do you remember the moment you fell in love with food?
MT: It was visiting the street foods in Taiwan with my grandparents. I was just old enough to walk. I would be pulled into the various stalls and try things like scallion pancakes – incredible! There was also the time when I was about 10 years old and friends of my parents knocked on the door. I was home alone. I invited them in and, as with Chinese culture, the first thing I asked them was if they had eaten. So there I was in the kitchen making my first batch of fried rice. It wasn't very good, but they smiled as I served it to them. At that point, I realized how happy you could make people simply by cooking for them.
AM: Absolutely! What stop on the book tour are you most excited about?
MT: Dayton (it’s always great to go home) and San Francisco – one of the best cities to live in and cook.
AM: What are your favorite warm dishes for fall?
MT: Hearty soups and anything braised – like my Best 3-Meat Chili or 8-spice Lamb Shoulder, featured in the new cookbook.
AM: Halloween plans this year? Are you dressing up?
MT: I always dress up. It's kind of a last minute thing. We have a bunch of old costumes in the basement. Worst-case scenario, I’ll throw on a pair of funky sunglasses.
AM: Do you have any fun traditions?
MT: There's a tradition that started in my neighborhood. As the kids went out for candy, I would serve 3-Meat Chili and cold beer to the parents. Funny, now the kids come over for the Chili and don't bother going out!
AM: Do you create any spooky treats for the kids?
MT: I don't need to – The kids come for the Chili!
For more on Macy’s Culinary Council Chef Ming Tsai, visit macys.com/culinarycouncil
Want more delicious recipes? Be sure to pick up the Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving and Holiday Cookbook – just in time for the entertaining season!