2016.037.005 Oral History Interview with George Chew 2016/04/07
George Chew was born in 1950 and grew up in New York Chinatown. His family immigrated from the southern Chinese island province of Hainan. His father was not home often because of work, yet he enjoyed his father’s cooking, and eventually learned to cook on his own. Chew’s skillset grew when he moved to Washington to study law. Now an immigration judge, Chew continues to cook and hold banquets. Of these gatherings, he cooks both western and Chinese food. Chew gets his influence from cook books and learns to adapt recipes to be his own. He believes that good ingredients are the key. While contributing to a potluck, Chew dish won a competition he did not know about. He went on to compete at a national cookoff in Chicago. Chew was a poet and currently a lawyer. Though, he is immensely proud of his contribution to Chinese cuisine.

0:00 - Grew up in Chinatown, Born in 1950, Not a lot of Chinese, Paper names common, Family immigrated from Hainan, Southern China, Father was a sailor and went for 6 months at a time, Mother was not a good cook, Hainan chicken is from Singapore.

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4:31 - Ate Italian food, Father was a cook, Roast goose, Favorite dishes made by father Curry chicken.

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6:09 - Favorite restaurants when younger, After 1965 immigration, Chinese food evolved, Virginia Lee’s cookbook, Went to Law School in Washington, Not influenced by parents, Good ingredients are key.

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12:21 - Memorable meals Thanksgiving, Western meals, Chinese New Year, Daughter is picking up cooking, Shrimp with lobster sauce signature dish, Specifically a Chinese American dish, Read from books and adapt, Garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce essential.

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22:16 - American taste for Chinese food change, Favorite dish is sweet potato congee “jook,” Cuisine of poverty, Won a potluck competition, Accidentally in three cookbooks, National cookoff in Chicago.

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32:18 - Immigration judge, Asian American movement, Created an Asian Pacific Islander food group, Flushing best place to eat, First time going to China in 1988, Visit village.

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39:57 - Changes in Chinatown, Italian and Chinese childhood tensions, Pan-Asian pantry, Struggled to learn Chinese, Speak Cantonese, Early food memories, Street food in Taiwan.

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53:16 - Singapore food change, Three sauce noodles, Different kinds of Chinese food, Did not eat out growing up, Unsophisticated palates.

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