Chinese Americana: Prologue

If you asked me what I was working on last year, chances are I talked about how I was driving to small Utah towns searching for Chinese restaurants.

I spent hundreds of miles on the road and the project took me months to complete. I didn’t really know what I would find or how I would write about it. But I knew I would find something.

I have to thank Mary Brown Malouf and Glen Warchol, my editors at Salt Lake Magazine. I had big plans and Mary and Glen supported me from the very first day I pitched them this idea and kept cheering me on every step of the way.

I told them I wanted to include pieces of Chinese American history and a bit of my own family history — all in a food story. They said do it.

After the first few phone calls to some Chinese restaurants, I told them I’d probably have to conduct all the interviews in Cantonese and translate them. They thought that was great.

I told them I wanted to write the piece like a first person travelogue. They said go for it.

I’m very much used to newswriting — where I’m simply reporting from a distance – but for this piece, I wanted to take a different approach. Mary and Glen not only gave me the space to tell this story, but they allowed me to write the story how I wanted to write it. It was the only way I knew how to write it, really.

I’m very happy with how the completed article turned out. It’s the most personal piece of writing I have done in my journalism career. It’s also my proudest piece of writing.

When I first got into journalism, I had a few goals in mind: 1) I wanted to find interesting stories to share. 2) I wanted to provide a voice to those who aren’t typically represented in the media. And 3) I wanted to take a different approach to food writing, which to me, meant finding a way to tell the stories of a cuisine.

I think I was able to fulfill all those goals with this article. My story is in the May/June 2015 issue of Salt Lake Magazine, which is on newsstands now. I’ll post a link to the story when it becomes available online.

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