Taiwan-born Huang Ching-he has built a veritable Chinese cooking brand in the UK by unraveling the secrets of Chinese cuisine in her popular TV series and recipe books.
Her most recent book, called Ching’s Fast Food, was published in the UK last month and again demonstrated why she has commanded such a large following in not just the UK, but in many other English-speaking countries.
“I think Ching’s adaptations are really easy and quick. A lot of the recipes are sort of 7 minutes to 10 minutes to prepare, and 10 minutes to cook,” said Carole Tonkinson, a publisher at Harper Collins who has worked with Huang on her three most recent books.
“She’s the first, the biggest name in Chinese cookery active today anywhere, I think, in English-language territories,” Tonkinson said.
Huang said she drew inspiration for the book from fans who wrote to her that they loved Chinese food from take-out restaurants and wanted to learn how to cook the dishes at home.
However, because Chinese food outlets in the UK vary widely in quality, Huang decided to simplify the process by writing a book that taught people the easy and healthy way to prepare the dishes.
According to her publisher, Huang said each of her 110 recipes takes an average of 30 minutes to cook, which is ideal for the modern lifestyle.
“People want food they can make after work that’s easy and healthy,” Tonkinson said.
Huang, who did not receive any formal cooking training, explained that ideas for new recipes might come anytime and anywhere — while traveling or dreaming in bed.
“I like to experiment and I enjoy eating. I also like to go to other countries to see what they eat,” she said.
The 33-year-old Huang was born in Taipei, but spent most of her early childhood in South Africa, before her parents moved to London when she was 11 years old.
Educated at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London and the Bocconi Business School in Milan, she opened a food company after graduation, selling health drinks and adapting Chinese dishes that made inroads into upscale department stores, such as Harrods and Selfridges.
Huang is known for her cookery programs, her first being Ching’s Kitchen, which was first shown on UKTV Food in 2005. Her Chinese Food Made Easy series aired in 2008 and launched her to stardom, and she hosted a 13-part cookery series on Channel 5 last year.