Liza Chu – Dim Sum: A Survival Guide

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

Dim Sum: A Survival Guide It’s a picture guidebook that takes foodies and dim sum novices through more than 60 different dim sum dishes. It also features icons that help people with allergies and food restrictions e.g. peanuts, shellfish, pork, meat, eggs, hence ‘survival guide’.

Tell us something about yourself.

I’m Hong Kong Chinese, and grew up in my family’s restaurant in Australia. I started working in the restaurant kitchen from age 11. Currently I’m living in Hong Kong again and blogging at http://dimsumsurvival. because my readers kept asking me where they should eat dim sum in Hong Kong. I’ve eaten my way through rural Japan, Sydney, Philadelphia, New York, Memphis, San Diego, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, Tuscon, Seattle, Vancouver, Toronto, and Belgium.

What inspired you to write this book?

I teach Cantonese to foreigners in Hong Kong . I believe food is an integral part of any culture so at the end of each semester I always take them out for a dim sum lunch. They relish the experience but someone always has a food restriction (e.g. vegetarian, can’t eat pork, shellfish allergy, peanut allergy etc.) and because there’s so much variety, my students have a hard time remembering what they ordered and how to order again without me. So I decided that there needed to be a photo guide for adventurous eaters who want to navigate these delicious morsels.

How did you choose the title?

‘Survival Guide’ because some food allergies really are a matter of life and death. This guide also helps diners survive the onslaught of choices in a dim sum restaurant.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

None at all, it was the smoothest experience ever! My publisher said that it is extremely atypical to have such an easy time.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I went to the local library and checked out guidebook on….How to write a guidebook. I followed the instructions religiously and voila, four months later, it was completed! The topic actually wrote itself. I believe that everyone has at least one book inside of them. I’m just wondering if there is another one inside somewhere…

Do you have any writing rituals?

No rituals. But like to get started in the morning as my brain is more awake then and not prone to procrastinate if I get some work done earlier in the day.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

When you become a published author, people have higher expectations of you. They demand more of your time, attention, expertise and they look at you when you speak as if everything that comes out of your mouth is made of gold. Be mentally prepared to meet those expectations although you were exactly the same person before you were published.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I’d include even more dishes.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

Alain de Botton, Martin Seligman, Jonathan Haidt, Alexander McCall Smith, Dominick Dunne, Sterling Seagrave. I love reading about how to achieve happiness through philosophy. Also I like to read history through a narrative. Sometimes, I just read for fun and relaxation.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Write something that people want to read.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

Foodies, travellers, sophisticated people seeking adventure or new sensations. Children of Chinese immigrants who grew up overseas with these foods but may have forgotten how to order in Chinese.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

At my blog: