The Last Chinese Chef
A Novel By Nicole Mones
You may know Chinese food; you may love it. But The Last Chinese Chef (Houghton Mifflin) will take you into a world of Chinese food you never knew existed. Here is the hidden universe of one of the world's great cuisines, its philosophy, its concepts, its astonishing artistic ambitions - illuminated in a story that is as entertaining and emotionally satisfying as it is erudite.
From her three decades of work and travel in China, including eight years of writing feature pieces on Chinese food for Gourmet, Nicole Mones has produced this mouthwatering novel. The reader is swept into a world that has been invisible to most Americans, a world where food is high art, where the mind and the soul engage, where history comes alive, and where eating is only the beginning.
Lessons, about Chinese cuisine power the story. When Maggie McElroy, a widowed American food writer, leams of a paternity claim against her late husband's estate, she has to go to China immediately. She asks her magazine for time off. Her editor counters with an assignment: to profile the rising culinary star Sam Liang.
In China Maggie sets about untying the knots of her husband's past, finding out more than she expected about him as well as about herself. With Sam as her guide, she also journeys deep into a food culture rooted in the country's history and philosophy. She is transformed by the cuisine, by Sam's family - a querulous but loving pack of passionate cooks and diners - and most of all by Sam himself. She begins to feel her soul coming back.
"No matter how much great nonfiction you read, some aspects of a foreign culture come through best in a novel or a film," says author Nicole Mones, who started a textile business in China at the close of the Cultural Revolution. "This amazing cuisine hasn't penetrated our culture yet. It's time to open the door." Indeed, The Last Chinese Chef has already been excerpted by Gourmet - the first work of fiction that magazine has ever published.
This is a novel of food, friendship, and falling in love. It will forever change the way you look at Chinese food.