After a brainstorming session with his team, Chef Ming Tsai visualizes the concept of being with the home cook in their kitchen through the magic of QR codes and video uploads with his latest and fifth cookbook, Simply Ming in Your Kitchen: 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn, Cook & Enjoy.

Denver was Tsai’s sixth stop during his book tour. Already, he visited San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, New York and San Antonio. But Colorado’s weather evolved into bitter temperatures on the scheduled date of Tsai appearance at Tattered Covers on Colfax.

“I guess I deserved this weather,” said Tsai sheepishly as he listed all the locations known for its sunny and warm temperatures at the beginning of his book signing last October 24. Despite the inclement weather, more than 50 fans packed the room to meet and obtain autographs on his recently published cookbook.

Behind the Scenes of Producing the Book
With 80 recipes, Tsai’s team videotaped eight to 10 how-to recipes a day. “It was brutal,” said Tsai, who is in his tenth season of his PBS television series, Simply Ming. Tsai added he styles his own food, sharing that the plate might be just wiped down just for the photograph.

He believes he is the best person to style the food because he is the chef and wants to share realism in the images so home cooks won’t be intimidated by the photographs.

Despite the grueling shooting production, Tsai shared his excitement about the new cookbook, believing it might be the first to offer videos to accompany the recipes. “A picture is 1,000 words but a video is one million words,” said the award-winning chef.

He explained he could be in the kitchen with the home cook as they watch his video but with enough cash he could offer a chance to cook in person. “If you got enough digits, we can talk,” said Tsai in a joking manner.

The first two videos of each chapter are free. Then, a charge of $.99 for each video is required for additional recipes. So, home cooks can access 16 free videos and pay $63.36 for the remaining 64 videos. “It’s a great teaching tool,” Tsai said.

Other features include downloading a shopping list on one’s smartphone. Instead of carrying scratch paper with a list of ingredients, home cooks can access the list easily with technology. He describes the cookbook as simple, delicious recipes with a cool “tech” spin.

“Not only do I love to cook, but also I love to teach. I am literally and virtually now in their kitchen, helping every step of the way,” Tsai said.

Suggestions for the Home Cooks
He recommends home cooks should use the cookbook as a “foundation for inspiration.” He believes the cookbook would get home cooks cooking without pain.

Another suggestion is stocking up the pantry with Asian-type ingredients such as soy sauce, garlic, rice, onions. “I want them to feel confident, inspired and ultimately get them cooking!  The book/videos are designed to help them learn, shop and create. Oh yea, and eat! They should have fun,” he said.

Tsai recommends tasting throughout the cooking process. “No food is bad food if you cook from the heart. Also, no food ends up as bad food when you taste along the way,” he said.

Simply Ming Television Series
Tsai started his 10th season of this cooking show early in October. Fans and viewers can check their local listing on public television stations nationwide and on Create TV at createtv.com. “I don’t act on my show,” said Tsai. “It is surprising to survive so long on public television.”

Celebrity Cooking
Four years ago, he cooked for Dr. Maya Angelo, best-selling author, poet and civil rights activist. Tsai shared the meeting came together when his agent mailed a cookbook to Dr. Angelo’s agent. Two months later, Tsai received two letters and book from Dr. Angelo. The connection brought them together in a celebration dinner, a night after President Barak Obama won the election. Tsai cooked for 12 guests at Dr. Angelo’s residence. “It was a surreal moment,” Tsai reminisced.

Eight months after the fortuitous dinner, former talk show host Oprah Winfrey invited Chef Tsai to cook for one of her charitable dinners. Tsai spent $3,000 on the food but he believed the dinner was worth every cent. “Oprah is the nicest, normal person you could ever meet,” said Tsai, who was star struck as he told the story.

Family
He shared personal stories about his family life. His wife of 18 years is a cookbook chef. When he tries to deviate from the published recipe, his wife points to the recipe but he looks at her puzzled why she would challenge him as a chef. He dedicates the recently published book to his two sons, David and Henry.

His parents encouraged his talents as a chef. He traced back to the time when his parents were arguing in the kitchen, the only time he’s witnessed them in an argument. He attempted to stop the heated discussion by jumping in and cooking the rest of the meal. In reflection, he believed his parents were acting just to get him to cook their dinner.

Upcoming projects
Ming Tsai opened Blue Ginger, one of the top five restaurants in Massachusetts, in February of 1998, in the Boston suburb of Wellesley. His upcoming project includes opening Blue Dragon in early 2013, an Asian gastro pub, in the Seaport district in Boston.

Interested in buying this book, visit Tattered Covers (www.TatteredCovers.com) or Amazon (www.amazon.com) to secure a copy. Or visit www.ming.com for an autographed cookbook.

Mary Jeneverre Schultz will use Chef Ming’s newest book to plan her next sushi party this month.