side dish - what's stirring in indie kitchens

Side Dish!

chef: alex yi zhong
location: asia, allentown, pa
recipe: chilled cucumber salad

Audio Clip owner may wong on authentic tofu

Culinary influences?
Traveling. I really enjoy going to new places and sampling the local cuisine. Sometimes I discover the most unusual ingredients that I never even knew existed. I'm also influenced just by eating out locally at other restaurants. We're lucky to have some real culinary talent right here in the Lehigh Valley!

Where did you learn to cook?
I learned to cook at a very early age because I had 3 older sisters who always made me their sous chef. Then I got my formal training in Beijing.

Favorite cookbook?
I don't have one. I don't read cookbooks because they are just too one dimensional for me. I cook using my senses and since you can't taste or smell a cookbook, they don't inspire me.

What's the one ingredient you could not live without?
Fresh garlic.

Favorite Microbrew beer or wine?
I don't know if it's even considered a Microbrew but I really enjoy Colt 45. My wife always buys the more expensive beers for me in hopes of converting me. I can appreciate the finer beers but Colt 45 is honestly my favorite.

Favorite music to listen to while cooking?
I never listen to music when I cook. I really like to concentrate when I'm cooking. Music would distract me.

What is your favorite type of food?
I really enjoy Chinatown style real Chinese food.

Most memorable meal?
A seafood dinner that I had at some small beach side stand while vacationing in Bermuda.

Most memorable dinner guest?
My parents. They were just so proud of me finally realizing the dream of owning my own sit down restaurant. So serving them my very first meal cooked at Asia is a moment I will never forget.

Most irritating celebrity chef?
Bobby Flay, I can't get over him stepping on the cutting board after the Iron Chef competition with Morimoto!

What makes indie food better?
I believe it's the personal attention that is given to the food. For me, cooking is a passion not just a job. I truly put my heart and soul into all my culinary creations.

Know a chef that would be great for Side Dish?
Contact Robyn Jasko, Side Dish Editor, at [email protected]