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HSN Cooks! and our guest-celebrity, Ming Tsai

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Did we tell you that when our box came from HSN, on the side it said something like, "This package is happy to see you too!"

Today we speak with celebrity chef, Ming Tsai. Ming hosted a half hour cooking show on the Food Network called "East meets West" from 1998 - 2003 and, interesting factoid, we found out he was once a squash player at Yale. Here is our interview:

Q.: Did your mother/grandmother teach you recipes or influence your cooking?

M.: Absolutely! Both of them were great cooks. They passed along traditional Chinese cooking techniques that I have now passed on to my boys.

Q.: What is your favorite piece of kitchen equipment and why?

M.: The wok. It's so versatile. You can cook just about anything. It sears, steams, boils, deep fries, you name it. It was a staple in my kitchen growing up. It's a staple in my kitchen now.

Q.: What is the one tool you cannot live without?

M.: A good, sharp chef's knife.

Q.: How does one get an “educated” palate?

M.: Taste, taste, taste. It just makes sense. The more you experience, the more you learn.

Q.: How should a prep area be set up?

M.: Designed with precision for maximum efficiency. Edit the tools and equipment to only the things you immediately need. Always start with a clean work surface. Make sure you have easy access to waste receptacles and a sink for easy clean up.

Q.: Did you always aspire to become a chef?

M.: Actually, I got my undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, following the tradition of my father. My parents wanted me to be a Doctor, Lawyer or Engineer.

Growing up with a household rooted in cooking, it's easy to my career direction was ultimately "influenced".

Q.: How can cooks at home save more time, yet eat healthy?

M.: Again, I come back to wok cooking. A stir-fry is quick and uses little oil. Cooks can also adopt more of the Chinese approach to meal design, emphasizing a greater proportion of vegetables and grains over meats or fish.

Q.: Do you have a tip that is trend-setting right now?

M.: Comfort foods are really showing up everywhere right now. From fine dining to fast food, it's being expanded on menus. What's fun to see how some old-time favorites are also refreshed for today's tastes. The flavors are still maintained but the ingredients and cooking technique can make them a little bit healthier.

Q.: How do you stay slim?

M.: I grew up being pretty active and even had a brief stint on the professional squash circuit. Today squash is still involved, as well as golf. I balance those out with the both the physical and spiritual aspects of Bikram yoga.

Q.: How did you choose your products?

M.: I look for items that are well-designed and functional and would be of use to today's home cooks. These products also need to be available at a price points that clearly provide home cooks an exceptional value.

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