At 77, when many people her age shy away for technology, Lorraine Witte seeks new challenges. After buying a new iMac in 2006, she embarked on a mission to master this new wonder machine through classes at the Apple Store. Now after nine years of classes, she has written an eBook, “A Pot of Rice to the Wonders of Wonton,” available now on iBooks for iPad and Mac.
This eBook offers 30 recipes for her favorite food—wontons—with helpful interactive videos that show six ways to fold these Chinese dumplings. Her book production partner and former Apple trainer, Josimar King, shot and embedded the videos into the cookbook which makes learning how to fold these dumplings so easy. It is just like having a cooking teacher right by your side.
Interspersed through the pages, read Witte’s fascinating life story from growing up in Hawai‘i to Chinese immigrant parents in the 1940s to becoming an author in the 21st century.
Anusasananan: Why produce your first book as an eBook?
Witte: An eBook was a choice my business partner and I decided to do. It seemed daunting that a publisher would support an unknown writer for my first book. However an electronic had definite advantages like the videos we could include that would not be available in another medium.
Anusasananan: I was especially impressed with your life story. Your father seemed to play a strong role in your character development. What wisdom did you learn from your father?
Witte: Gosh the fact that he cared about me in his own Chinese father’s way was the beginning of my worth. Remember I was a girl child. He said “You should learn everything, you will not be sorry”. So I watched and followed him around, watched everything he did especially his hands.
Anusasananan: How did you get starting in teaching cooking?
Witte: As a stay-at-home mom I wanted to be busy. So a teacher at Sherman Oaks School asked if would teach them Chinese cooking. They knew I cooked because I started an enrichment class for the kids after school and wontons were easy and fun for the children. Their little palms were as big as a wonton skin … from there it progressed to more teaching at gourmet stores, developing food products that led to fancy food shows and food consulting.
Anusasananan: You were a Hollywood actress in your youth. Now you have your own YouTube channel, “The Chinese Lady.” How do you apply your acting skills to your cooking videos?
Witte: Well just thinking back in time, the lessons learned have helped me in many ways in my cooking videos. I am always aware of the camera but then you train yourself not to follow it. I trust the cameraman do his job. Focusing on the dialogue, food placement and being very natural is key to a good video. Having fun and being authentic as you can is also important. The difference for my food videos compared to a written script is that I am the constant actor/person who must perform as a professional chef and to be absolutely knowledgeable about the material in that day’s shoot. In other words doing research and knowing what to do in front of the camera takes practice but the more I do it, the better our videos are.
Anusasananan: How has the perception of Chinese food changed since the days when you were “Miss Chun King,” spokes person for the huge company that sold prepared Chinese food?
Witte: In 1964 there were very few Asian products in the marketplace. Chun King noodles which were crispy were available in cans in most supermarkets. The average non-Chinese person would not be that familiar with Asian products unless it was soy sauce. Now the average supermarket has shelves of Asian food and sauces from all over the world. We’re talking almost 50 years ago. Chinese food is definitely bought, eaten and enjoyed by such a universal audience nowadays. Food culture has grown into a full time passion. I speak for the Californians and New Yorkers, people on both coasts of the U.S.
Anusasananan: Why do you love wontons?
Witte: I have loved wontons my whole life. My love stems from an emotional and nutritional level. My first recollection was eating them at home then at my father’s Chinese restaurant. In time wontons would lead me toward the food industry. Wontons are omnipresent in my freezer because I love the taste and texture of these bite-sized morsels. They are easy to prepare and I have never met a person who did not love them when served in my home.
Anusasananan: What are your favorite wontons in the book?
Witte: There are 30 wonton recipes and I love all of them but maybe my few favorites would be the very first, Master Wontons with Pork and Shrimp, Napoleon Wontons, Butternut Squash with Basil Wontons, Mushrooms with Shallots and Prosciutto and Chicken with Garlic Chives Siu Mai.
For more information, visit www.lorrainewitte.com. Click on the links under “Latest Releases” on her website to download a free sample, or to purchase A Pot of Rice to the Wonders of Wonton for only $9.99 on iBooks for iPad and Mac. Or visit itun.es/us/iR2uX.l.