The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

  • #26 on the New York Times Best Seller List
    and featured on The Colbert Report, Martha Stewart,, CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Charlie Rose Tomorrow, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, and NPR stations coast to coast. Also selected for Borders Original Voices and Book Sense. Follow me on Twitter! Fan me on Facebook.

  • Chinese Food

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    Chef Peng, creator of General Tso’s chicken, passes away

    Friday, December 2nd, 2016

    I knew this day was going to come. And in fact as surprised how long he lasted, since we rushed to film him for our documentary when he was 91. But Chef Peng, our famed creator of General Tso’s chicken passed away at age 97. I was in the middle of the Nieman Foundation board […]

    Harley Spiller’s Giant Chinese Menu Collection Going to University of Toronto

    Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

    Big news in menu world. Harley Spiller’s immense Chinese menu collection (and an indirect inspiration for my book) is going to the University of Toronto. He sold it for $40,000, which may sound like a lot. But actually isn’t if you consider there are 10,000 items in it. I thought it might go to the NYPL. […]

    The Search for General Tso. In Theaters January 2, 2015!

    Thursday, December 4th, 2014

    Happy to say that The Search for General Tso has been acquired by IFC/Sundance for distribution and will be in theaters (and VOD) on January 2, 2015. Director Ian Cheney did a great job of shepherding through the film, which was repped by Cinetic Media, of indie film fame. Here is the trailer below. Plus […]

    “The Search for General Tso” Will Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival

    Monday, March 24th, 2014

      I’m excited to announce that “The Search for General Tso”, a documentary that I have been working on with director Ian Cheney, is going to be premiering at The Tribeca Film Festival.  This is a long project in the making. It’s been four years since I first met Ian Cheney and Cur “Search” has […]

    An $888 dish at Hakkasan, New York

    Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

    Hakkasan, the London-based luxury Chinese chain I went to for my book, opened up a New York City location. It’s high end. The New York space is 11,000 square feet and seats 200. Most entrees are $22 to $88. But one dish is $888  for Japanese abalone with black truffle. It’s located in Times Square, […]

    Jeremy Lin’s head over a Chinese fortune cookie. On MSG’s TV.

    Thursday, February 16th, 2012

    MSG now regrets putting up a graphic of Jeremy Lin’s head over the broken fortune cookie. Almost inevitable. But still, I think someone must have thought this was a good idea. And no one thought maybe it wasn’t. On television is the strangest part.Â

    Chinese Takeout Boxes are All-American

    Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

    The New York Times Magazine has a piece by Hilary Greenbaum and Dana Rubenstein on how Chinese takeout boxes are uniquely American (Chinese takeout boxes are all but unknown in China) My favorite fact that they dug up: On Nov. 13, 1894, in Chicago, the inventor Frederick Weeks Wilcox patented a version of what he called a […]

    My research is now part of the Smithsonian’s permanent collection.

    Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

    I stopped by the American history museum of the Smithsonian and was superexcited to see three objects that I have encountered in my research were now on exhibit and part of the museum’s permanent collection The kata grills from Gary Ono, which were used to make superearly fortune cookies in the Japanese Tea Garden in […]

    Spoke at the National Archives on Oct. 26

    Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

    I spoke at the National Archives today. That’s right, the same building as Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence! It was part of the “What’s Cooking? Uncle Sam” exhibit, which examines the federal government’s impact on the American diet. The building: And the little sign for the talk. Update: The chief of research offered […]

    General Tso’s Nachos

    Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

    This is amazing. General Tso’s nachos. He’s gone south of the border.

    Certificates from California Senate, Assembly + San Francisco Board of Supervisors

    Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

    I got these certificates in the mail yesterday. Superfun.

    Star Trek Meets Chinese Food: Make it Tso

    Thursday, April 7th, 2011

    Sent to me by David Lefer.

    Chinatown Street Food Tour on Saturday, April 2 and 3 for $88

    Sunday, March 20th, 2011

    More update. To sign up for announcements of future food tours, sign up below Enter your email address: A TinyLetter Email Newsletter Update! I’m adding an additional tour on April 3, at 2 p.m. Meet at 215 Centre Street inside the lobby of the Museum of Chinese in America. Donate $88 to the workshop at […]

    Fortune Cookie Baby Booties Inspired by Book

    Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

    My friend, Barbara Martinez, alerted me to the fact that my appearance on Martha Stewart inspired her to create the baby booties. (click on the booties, annoying that they don’t have an individual link to each finalist.) Here is what she writes (she got the middle initial wrong, but whatevs). Della S. Oregon City, OR […]

    Smithsonian’s Sweet and Sour Chinese Exhibition

    Thursday, March 10th, 2011

    The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is presenting a Chinese American display, Sweet & Sour, opening March 17, 2011 (two days after my birthday!) in the lobby. I helped a bit with linking them together with the items, including the original Japanese kata that were used to grill some of the first fortune cookies […]

    My award from Chinese Restaurant News

    Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

    Influential personalities in restaurant industry.

    My book in Berkeley Ethnic Studies library.

    Saturday, February 19th, 2011


    Fortune Cookie Seating

    Thursday, February 17th, 2011

    Shin Azumi for Lapalma has designed a fortune cookie-shaped chair which was presented at Imm Cologne 2011, though there has been some controversy about it since then. According to Swiss Miss, it is built from a single sheet of plywood. While it looks fragile, it’s actually incredibly stable, thanks to the clever weight distribution achieved via a specifically […]

    Popular Irish Chinese dish: 3-in-1 = fried rice, curry sauce and French fries all in one.

    Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

    It’s actually not bad, carby overload, with cool crispy and grainy and sauce texture. It’s arguably the most popular Irish-Chinese dish. Best when you are drunk from beer, I’ve been told. Best description when they called it “Chinese poutine.”

    Cary Goldstein, New Publisher of Twelve

    Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

    Grand Central Publishing today abruptly announced that Cary Goldstein, publicist extraordinaire and deputy publisher, is going to take over as publisher of Twelve, effective immediately (their website changed quickly enough). This is covered by The New York Times, the Associated Press, Publishers Weekly. Cary recently signed a two-book deal with Christopher Hitchens, who was diagnosed […]

    Tracking Chinese restaurants, chop suey and fortune cookies over the last two centuries via Google books

    Sunday, January 9th, 2011

    This ngram is a broad metric of the concepts in Google books, and the dates generally track with my research: "chop suey" jumping around 1896, "fortune cookies" surging after World War II, and "Chinese restaurants" making an appearance in 1860, around the beginnings of the first waves of Chinese immigration.  " Notice how "Chinese restaurants" […]

    General Tso’s Soy Protein, from Wild Ginger in Williamsburg

    Sunday, January 9th, 2011

    Yummy? Or not.

    Like “A Year of Living Biblically,” but With Fortune Cookies

    Friday, January 7th, 2011

    Every day for a year, a writer, Matt Kelsey, is going to follow the advice of a fortune cookie and play the lucky numbers, to see if it really will make a difference. Here is his press release, which I was fascinated by in part because it’s on the Kansas City Star website. Sort of […]

    Donate to “The Search for General Tso!” (and get on IMDb)

    Friday, January 7th, 2011

    Help bring General Tso and his chickens to a theater near you! I am co-producing a feature-length documentary on American Chinese food with the Peabody-award winning team behind King Corn, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, called “The Search for General Tso.” We think it’s a great way to bring my research to a larger audience […]

    Team General Tso in the Taipei Mountains

    Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

    From left to right: Ian Cheney, director and co-producer Curt Ellis, co-producer Me, co-producer, and translator Taylor Gentry, director of photography We went up to get some panoramic shots for B-roll. This is a film (gasp) shot that Taylor took. It looks like Instagram. But it’s not. No filter to be had to do this. […]

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