Mary Kate and I both share a passion for eating amazing authentic Chinese food. The best way to do that, we’ve found, especially living in the USA, is to make it yourself. (It's also thrifty and fun to make for friends and family.)


Hi, I’m Nate, a graphic designer, photographer, runner, and home cook living in Brooklyn. My sister Mary Kate also lives in NYC with her dog Nelson. She's a freelance writer.

That’s why we started this website ( as a resource for all things China and Chinese food. It’s a place where people like us can discuss Chinese culture and share ideas and tips about cooking Chinese food.

Mary Kate and I also just wrote a book about our adventures in China! We backpacked thousands of miles through the country in search of the best dishes and recipes. We cooked with families in their homes and followed cooks back into their restaurant kitchens to discover the secret for Shanghai Fried Noodles and what makes the tastiest dumpling dipping sauce. We chose our favorite 100 recipes for our book Feeding the Dragon and our favorite travel photos from nine amazing regions in China, including Tibet and Inner Mongolia. Check out our map to seem more details about our travel route.

Mary Kate's and my unlikely obsession with all things China and Chinese food started as almost a fluke. I started college studying business at Baylor University in Texas and I needed a language credit. My dad insisted that I study Mandarin Chinese.
“China is the future of business, son. Mark my words,” he said, and so after a few semesters of Chinese classes, I headed to Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University in early 2001. My first few weeks in China were difficult. The little Chinese I had learned in Texas could barely get me anywhere, and I had to come up with elaborate charades to communicate with people. I bought a shiny new bicycle to get around town, which was promptly stolen. To make matters worse, most restaurant menus were written only in Chinese characters.


I didn’t see anything that looked like egg rolls, General Tso’s chicken, or the Chinese food I had eaten in America at mall food courts. Instead I ate food from street vendors, which I could easily order by pointing and grunting. Things started looking up, however, after surviving the initial culture shock and a bout of typhoid fever. I started learning how to get around Beijing on my own. I bought a rusty old bike that no one would ever want to steal and a better lock. I gathered very little from classes that I did not regularly attend, but I discovered Chinese culture and food by exploring the city and befriending the people I met.

During the middle of that school year abroad, Mary Kate came to visit me for a few months. She was still in high school back in Ohio, and it was thrilling for me to show her China. She was shocked to find out that sushi was not Chinese but actually from Japan, an entirely different country, and that Chinese characters were not just decorations and tattoos, but that people actually read them. Traveling together around the country, we found our definition of Chinese food changing with each new place we visited. Sure, we found stir-fries and kung pao chicken, but we also ate mouth-numbingly spicy food in Sichuan Province, tropical food from the southern province of Yunnan, Portuguese fusion dishes in Macau, Muslim food in Xinjiang Province (lamb kebabs and flatbreads), dim sum dishes in Hong Kong, Tibetan vegetarian dishes, Mongolian hot pot from Inner Mongolia, and home-style northern Beijing food.
This eye-opening culinary excursion triggered a fascination in us, and after we shared an adrenaline-filled near-death experience while lost in China’s southern jungles (you can read about this in our book), we both knew we’d be back again someday to write a book about these amazing foods that can’t be found in the West. We had found a new frontier in China and a people with whom we readily connected despite the culture gap.

Back in Beijing, I immersed myself in the Chinese culture and language and began experimenting with Asian cooking techniques, starting from scratch. I got hooked on cooking Chinese food through watching and learning from Xiao Zhang, my extremely patient ayi, or housekeeper. Stateside, Mary Kate learned Mandarin in college classes that she regularly attended, and she ended up having her own study-abroad experience at Nanjing Normal University.

Mary Kate and I cooking in Mammaw's kitchen circa 1990Our joint interest in adventurous eating began early. Our dad was in the United States Air Force, and we had the opportunity to experience the food of other cultures while living and traveling around the world. Our mom is an incredible cook, and she was constantly trying out new recipes with us from her cookbook collection, which seemed to grow exponentially each time we traveled to a new place. By high school we had eaten grilled pigeon at the foot of the Great Pyramids and ceviche served on a banana leaf in Central America, but having never traveled anywhere in Asia meant that the little we learned about Asian culture and food was picked up from Jackie Chan movies and Chinese take-out restaurants. Of course, we now know that there’s a whole lot more to the East. Chinese cuisine is a world of food and is by far our favorite to cook and eat.

Completing and publishing our book, Feeding the Dragon: A Culinary Travelogue Through China, took ten years of dreaming, scheming, traveling, moving back to China, cooking, streamlining recipes we gathered from cooks in China, and eating. We are honored to have the opportunity to share with you our passion for cooking Chinese food and to bring you along on our adventures of traveling and eating in this fascinating country.

Thanks for visiting us. We hope you enjoy our website!