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Louisiana Eats: Life Lessons and Cantonese Cooking

Chinese cooking has been a part of the American dining scene since the mid-1800s and remains an integral aspect of the industry today. This week, we take an in-depth look at the Chinese restaurant tradition from a variety of perspectives.

For decades, the parking lot was always full at the little red building just across the parish line from New Orleans. Inside, a packed house of diners could be found happily munching on dim sum and other Cantonese dishes at Royal China Restaurant. In 2021, after forty-plus years in business, Shirley Lee and her husband Chef Tang Lee decided to retire. But now they are back with their new restaurant, Miss Shirley's on Magazine Street in Uptown New Orleans. That hostess with the mostest and her daughter who helps run the business, Carling Lee, visited our studio to tell us how restaurateurs-turned-retirees turned restaurateurs again.

Next, we talk to Curtis Chin, who came of age in Detroit at a Chinese restaurant run by multiple generations of his family. Like many immigrant families, Curtis' parents worked long, hard hours running their business with time for little else. But they made sure that their children were exposed to the wider world and all it had to offer. Curtis reflects on the lessons he took from that childhood experience in his memoir, Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant.

Finally, Chef Andrew Lu joins us. Having grown up in Lafayette, the child of immigrants from China, Andrew is truly an Asian Cajun. And nowhere is that more apparent than in the name of his popular pop-up restaurant – Get Your Mom and Dim Sum.

For more of all things Louisiana Eats, be sure to visit us at PoppyTooker.com.

Poppy is the host and executive producer of the weekly show, Louisiana Eats! Food personality, culinary teacher and author, Poppy Tooker is passionate about food and the people who bring it to the table.