Who is Shirley Chung? Meet 'Top Chef Amateurs' judge whose parents wanted her to be a doctor

It was Shirley Chung's passion for food led her to her true calling as a chef

                            Who is Shirley Chung? Meet 'Top Chef Amateurs' judge whose parents wanted her to be a doctor
Shirley Chung (Instagram/@chfshirleychung)

Think you have what it takes to make it through a high stake cooking show and come out on top? For 24 amateur cooks, it's time to put their skills to the test as they gear up to star on 'Top Chef Amateurs'. Bravo's latest cooking show will see these chefs taking on some classic challenges with a bit of help from the show's alumni, who will be cooking alongside them, providing them with the support they need.

If you're looking for other culinary shows to check out, you might want to consider 'MasterChef Legends', 'The Chef Show', 'Chopped Junior' and 'BBQ Brawl'.


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Who is Chef Shirley Chung?

A finalist on season 11 and the runner up on season 14, Chung was born and raised in Beijing, China. She immigrated to America at age 17 for college and later worked in Silicon Valley for a few years after graduating.

She enrolled at California Culinary Academy San Francisco and trained in classic French and Italian cuisine. She went on to work with Thomas Keller, Guy Savoy and Mario Batali and even opened restaurants for the same.


Against expectations 

Born and brought up in Beijing, China, Chung's parents had their hopes pinned on her and wanted her to be a doctor or an engineer. But being a chef was not on the list acceptable professions. However, Chung followed her heart and found her true calling.

"When it comes to parents, ultimately they want (your) happiness. They don't want you to work too hard. Cooking is a very hard profession. They don't look down at the profession." She explained while talking to OCR.

"I'm a little Asian girl. They always wish I would do something lighter duty. For her to taste my food, she realized this is who I am, and this is my calling. That's why that moment was beautiful. We understood each other." She explained, while talking about her relationship with her mother.



Entrepreneurial spirit

From being the Executive Chef at China Poblano to opening Twenty Eight, a restaurant that features modern Chinese cuisine, Chung has years of experience under her belt. She is currently the owner of Ms Chi Cafe. Chung has changed the way people look at Chinese food by letting her creativity shine through her menu. 

"You assume people know what Chinese food is but they don't," said, in a conversation with LA Times. "They know orange chicken," she added. While a lot of her dishes draw from her roots, she adds her own creative twist; for example, Chung has gone on to make quite a unique style of pancakes based on a family recipe.

"The recipe is from my grandmother and my mother's pancakes, but instead of their roll technique, I make mine like French laminated dough for a lot of layers," she explained. "With the sandwiches, and the dumplings, it's Chinese flavors, but we change the presentation so people understand it." she added. 


Chef Shirley Chung makes a comeback on' Top Chef Amateurs' as part of the 'Top Chef' alum to help the amateur cooks as they race against the clock while tackling challenges. 

She will also be a part of the judge's panel this season, alongside Eric Adjepong, Richard Blais, Jennifer Caroll, Stephanie Cmar, Tiffany Derry, Joe Flamm, Gregory Gourdet, Melissa King, Kwame Onwuachi, Dale Talde and Isaac Toups.

Catch Bravo's 'Top Chef Amatuers' on July 1, 2021 at 9/8c.

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