Chef Susanna Foo
Susanna Foo was born in Inner Mongolia, China and raised in Taipei, Taiwan where she educated herself on the spices, grains, and produce indigenous to the region. Susanna came to the United States in 1967 not to pursue a career in the culinary arts, but to earn her M.A. degree in library science at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1979, Susanna and her husband, E-Hsin, moved to Philadelphia to join his family's restaurant business and opened the Foo's second family restaurant, Hu-Nan of Philadelphia.
Cooking has always been a family affair for Susanna. She learned Hunan style cooking from her mother-in-law, Wan-Chow Foo, and Chinese Northern-style pasta from her cousin, Chao Su. Susanna met her mentor and teacher, the late Jacob Rosenthal, founder of the Culinary Institute of America, while she was at Hu-Nan and learned French cooking from him. Rosenthal admired Susanna's unique cooking style and encouraged her to take a course at the CIA. In 1987, Susanna and E-Hsin opened their own restaurant, Susanna Foo Chinese Cuisine, and made their dream and philosophy of cooking a reality.
Susanna's Special Style
Susanna reinterprets Chinese classical dishes with French techniques. She creates sauces made from reduced stocks of roasted bones, braised onion, tomato, and carrots, a major deviation from traditional Chinese cooking. In her sauces and other dishes, Susanna uses herbs and spices from all over the world, including lemon grass, tarragon, basil, sun-dried tomato, Mexican ancho chili, star anise, and go-shi, a Chinese herbal medicine. The end result is a lighter, brighter, more velvety, more flavorful, and more colorful version of classical Chinese sauces.
Susanna loves to use fresh produce. She incorporates non-Chinese greens like endive, radicchio, arugula, and mache into her cooking and creates new dishes with traditional Chinese vegetables and fruits like fresh waterchestnuts, baby chrysanthemum, fresh shiitake mushrooms, and Asian pears.
A Philadelphia Tradition
Last October marked an important milestone as Susanna and E-Hsin celebrated their twentieth anniversary in Philadelphia. As Susanna tells her friends and guests, "We are proud to be Philadelphians."