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Photo by Ching Hsieh

Dieter’s Introduction

I’ll be one of your instructors during your upcoming course in Taiwan. I’d love to hear a little bit about all of you but will start with a brief introduction:

I grew up in Long Beach, California until I was 14 and then moved to Redondo Beach (just 45 minutes north) for high school. There’s a huge Taiwanese American population in that part of Los Angeles County, so many of my closest high school friends’ parents were from Taiwan. Some of the strongest food memories I have from before college include going out with friends to get boba or beef noodle soup. My first trip to Taiwan was after high school with a friend whose father lived in Taipei; during my time there, I developed a passion for tea, trying new foods, and learning about the local histories of other countries.

When my partner asked me to move to Taipei after college, I was nervous but excited to live abroad for the first time and dedicate myself to studying Mandarin. After two semesters of language courses in Taipei, I spent the summer at the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine in Chengdu, China learning how to make classic Sichuan food. After another year of study in Taiwan, I returned to the US for a professional French culinary program at the International Culinary Center in the Bay Area, taught cooking classes in Honolulu, returned to Chengdu to work in food tourism, and then moved to Beijing to manage a culinary center and lead food-focused educational programs for international schools.

I started an Instagram account (@chinese_plating) while I was living in Beijing that documents old Chinese cooking magazines I found in libraries. At first, I thought it would just be a fun project to share with my friends but quite a few well-known chefs and food writers started following the account and sending me messages to find ways to collaborate. The eccentric dishes and plating designs in these older food magazines continue to fascinate me and draw attention to the relationship between food and art, a theme we’ll explore during our two weeks in Taiwan.

I recently moved back to the Los Angeles area and will start a Masters in Library and Information Science in the fall, focusing my research on historical culinary documents (i.e. cookbooks, food magazines, import catalogs). I hope to inspire students to investigate the history of the food they eat and become curious about the stories behind the dishes they often take for granted.

I’m excited to finally meet you all in-person in just a few days! Feel free to post any questions you might have to the Yak Board.

-Dieter  馬康