Chef Susanna Foo Biography

Get to Know the Original Innovator of Asian Fusion

Chef Susanna Foo
Susanna Foo. Susanna Foo

Chef Susanna Foo is one of the original innovators of Asian Fusion - combining traditional Chinese ingredients with classical French cooking techniques.

Childhood: From Mongolia to Taiwan

Susanna Foo was born in Inner Mongolia and spent her early childhood in the Shanxi province of Northern China. Her father was a general in Chiang Kai-shek’s army who fought against Mao Tse-tung. Susanna and her family escaped to Taiwan where she finished her childhood growing up in Taipei.

Coming to America

Susanna came to the United States in 1967 to earn her Master of Arts degree in Library Science at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1979, Susanna moved to Philadelphia with her Chinese-born husband, E-Hsin, to join his family’s restaurant business. Soon after, she opened the family’s second restaurant, Hu-Nan of Philadelphia.

Culinary Career

Susanna first acquired her love of food from her father. Her father had attended a boarding school in the 1920s and indulged in some of the best foods. He often told Susanna his fond memories of exquisite local lamb and duck dishes and elaborate imperial-style cuisine. Susanna’s childhood kitchen was one of fresh produce and meats her mother would acquire from the local shops and farmers.

Susanna 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.

Rosenthal taught Susanna French-style cooking and encouraged her to take a course at the CIA.

In 1987, Susanna and E-Hsin opened their own restaurant, Susanna Foo Chinese Cuisine, in Philadelphia. Susanna and her restaurant have earned national acclaim for her fusion of Chinese and French cooking. Susanna uses ingredients from all over the world and always likes to use the freshest available.

Susanna Foo also has a new restaurant, Suilan, in the Atlantic City's Borgata Hotel & Casino. Susanna Foo restaurant in Philadelphia closed its doors in June, 2015.

Cookbooks

Chef Susanna Foo has written two cookbooks:

  • Susanna Foo Chinese Cuisine: The Fabulous Flavors & Innovative Recipes of North America's Finest Chinese Cook (Houghton Mifflin Company 1995)
  • Susanna Foo Fresh Inspiration : New Approaches to Chinese Cuisine (Houghton Mifflin Company 2005)

Awards

  • 1989 Food and Wine’s Best New Chefs
  • 1996 James Beard Award – Best International Cookbook Susanna Foo Chinese Cuisine: The Fabulous Flavors & Innovative Recipes of North America's Finest Chinese Cook
  • 1997 James Beard Award – Best Mid-Atlantic Chef
  • Top Chinese Chef in the USA, USA Today
  • Best New Restaurant, Suburban
  • Philadelphia Style Magazine
  • Best of Philly®, Philadelphia Magazine
  • Best of Main Line, Main Line Today
  • Silver Spoon Award, Food Arts Magazine
  • Robert Mondavi
  • Culinary Award of Excellence
  • Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic Region
  • James Beard Foundation
  • Best of Philly: Hall of Fame, Philadelphia Magazine
  • One of America's 10 Best New Chefs
  • Food & Wine Magazine
  • Best Asian Cook Book in English
  • Fresh Inspirations 2004
  • Gourmend International Cookbook Award 2004
  • International Cook Book Award
  • Susanna Foo Chinese Cuisine 1996
  • James Beard Foundations