Name: Annie Chu
Blog name: Chu on This
Where were you born? Taipei, Taiwan
Where are you living now? Toronto, Canada
Why did you start your blog?
Like many an eager exchange student, I started my blog during my undergrad years to document my year abroad in France. I soon realized that it was the posts about food that people (other than my parents, who were forced to read my blog!) were interested in reading, particularly if it was actually useful to them (ie. restaurant reviews in different cities). I continued to blog after that because I realized it was a great platform for me to share my photography and writing with others.
How did you decide on your blog name?
Perhaps this may be a bit self-evident, but it’s really punny! If I have to name a favourite part of having this blog, it is definitely that moment when I hand someone my card and see the smile on his or her face. As an aside, Chu on This is now a registered trademark in Canada.
What do you blog about?
I have three categories on my blog: Restaurant Reviews is where I document my dining experiences (with the majority in Toronto) and try to provide an unbiased opinion on the merits of the establishments. In the City encompasses events and food and/or travel-related adventures such as exploring a new market, or my internship working on a farm (blog post to come soon!). Finally, there is In My Kitchen, where I actually blog about some of my own recipes and experiments.
What post are you most proud of and why?
I’m just going to go with one of the most recent, which is my coverage of Taste of Toronto.
It was a great event that was so much fun to cover and a great opportunity for food photography (hello, natural light!)
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
If I had to pick, it would be the less-searchable posts about my time in Taiwan, such as “What to Eat at Shilin Market”.
As the blog’s popularity was growing between 2010-2012, I became increasingly frustrated with the limitations of my former site. Thus, I recruited some friends who were interested in working with Chu on This, and together, we spent over a year brainstorming and developing a new look for the blog, which meant leaving (and losing the traffic that came with) the comfortable but unsatisfying world of Blogger and building a new site from the ground up. It took a lot of time and effort, but I couldn’t be happier with the results. We’re still sorting out some glitches and compatibility issues, so I just hope that new visitors will be patient with me and stay awhile!
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
Sometimes it can be hard to maintain integrity when reviewing restaurants that have received positive support from other bloggers, media outlets and the community in general. My “Mother’s Dumplings” review, with the subtitle “My mother can do better” is one of those posts that people often bring up in conversation, toting the tagline and commending me on my honesty. Unfortunately for my mother, she now has a growing list of people wanting to try her cooking!
What is one (non-kitchen) gadget you can’t live without?
Though I am often found carrying a DSLR and my iPhone at the same time, I am a pretty big proponent of keeping the spirit of writing and sketching alive, so I always have my Moleskine agenda and notebook (not really a gadget but serves the same function as some!) with me.
What is one kitchen gadget you can’t live without?
Currently, a salad spinner. What a great invention!
Favourite food, care to share a recipe or restaurant choice?
While I can’t definitively name only one favourite restaurant in Toronto, Richmond Station is definitely one of them. The food is great, and it means so much more to have seen Chef Carl Heinrich’s vision go from a dream to a reality. While I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting foods, I think I will always be in the mood for contemporary Canadian cuisine!
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
I still have an aversion to Moroccan food after an unfortunate incident in the Saharan Dessert. But I’m working on it!
What makes your blog unique?
I hope that my readers can see that each of my posts comes from a very thoughtful and inquisitive place. I treat each blog post like an “adventure” and often call on the help of my friends in the Chu Crew to take those adventures with me. Not only is it more fun, but also, no two people have the same palette so a second opinion that I trust doesn’t hurt either. Finally with all the research and editing that I do, it may take a bit longer sometimes, but I hope that quality will prevail over quantity over time.