How Culture And Cuisine Connect For Kristina Cho - Exclusive

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Food blogger and two-time James Beard Award-winning author Kristina Cho is known for making authentic Chinese cuisine accessible to everyone. During an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Cho shared insight into her own unique upbringing and how it influenced her. "I live in the San Francisco Bay area now, and I've lived here for over eight years," Cho told us. "But still, whenever people ask me where I'm from, I have to say Cleveland. Even if I'm living in San Francisco for 30 years, I'm always going to say I'm from Cleveland." 

Cho's childhood in Cleveland played a huge role in her love and appreciation for Chinese cuisine. "I think growing up in kind of a smaller Asian community in Ohio that doesn't have a ton of other Asian people out there just made me really appreciate the meals and experiences I had with my family, because they were kind of the only outlets that I had to experience Asian culture," Cho shared. "So that was really important to me when I was growing up and I think I just have a lot of sentimental attachment to Ohio."

New home, old memories

Though Kristina Cho now has San Francisco's diverse culinary scene right at her fingertips, her food memories are firmly rooted in Cleveland. "I grew up in my family's Chinese restaurant and my afternoon snack a lot of times was going into the kitchen, where my grandpa was on the line cooking," Cho shared. "I would go in and I would bother him and ask him to make me a fresh egg roll with sweet and sour sauce, and he would just kind of drop whatever he was doing and make me one. And that was my afternoon snack. I feel like that's pretty luxurious for a little kid growing up."

Cho admits that she had a "spoiled" childhood when it came to the great food surrounding her, and her new home in San Francisco certainly furthers that culinary decadence. While growing up in Ohio limited her access to Asian culture outside of meals with her family, she now resides in an area with seemingly unlimited access to restaurants and markets that celebrate Chinese and Cantonese culture. "My husband and I found an apartment in the inner Richmond neighborhood, and it's kind of like one of the many secondary Chinatowns and is really close to this drag that has a bunch of Chinese bakeries and restaurants and Chinese grocery stores or Asian grocery stores," Cho told us. "It was the first time in my life that I could just live my life in a really real and authentic way and be able to experience both sides of my culture. I was able to walk down the street on my way to work and hear Cantonese being spoken out of the bakeries as I passed by and being able to just go to the grocery store and everything I needed was right there."

Kristina Cho's James Beard award-winning book, "Mooncakes and Milk Bread," is available on Amazon.