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“Aka Mr. Chow” Documentary to Air on HBO

Aka Mr Chow

Excited guests gathered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to celebrate famed restauranteur, Michael Chow. It was the NYC premiere of the anticipated documentary, “Aka Mr. Chow,” centered around the life and legacy of the esteemed restaurateur, Michael Chow, and the culinary empire he established, famously known as Mr. Chow’s. We are hungry as we write this! The anticipation was palpable as the venue buzzed with an electric energy that only New Yorkers know; plus a shared excitement among those privileged to witness the story of a pioneer whose culinary skills and cultural impact have left a mark on the global dining scene. Come on..have you tried the chicken satay?! The documentary airs Sunday, October 22nd on HBO- check your local listings for times. Pop Style TV’s Lauren Conlin chatted with director Michael Hooker, subject Michael Chow, and actor in attendance Victor Garber.

Aka Mr Chow

Aka Mr Chow

 

MR. CHOW DIRECTOR NICK HOOKER
Lauren Conlin:

Hi, Nick. Congratulations.

Nick Hooker:

Thank you very much. Thank you.

Lauren Conlin:

Okay. I’m so excited to see this movie, mainly because I’m obsessed with the food. I’m a New Yorker. I love the food, I love the chicken satay. But what makes Michael Chow so interesting to the viewers?

Nick Hooker:

That he’s a man of many, many, many faces, many, many, many dimensions. In fact, the restaurant is really only one of many. And in a way, what he really is, is an artist. What he truly is as an artist. And when he opened Mr Chow in London, it was at a time in England, which were really for a Chinese man in England at that time, his opportunities were very limited.

He was a wonderful painter. But he couldn’t get anywhere as a painter. Because the bigotry and the racism was so profound, then, it was basically, his options were you can open a laundry, you can open a restaurant. So, he wasn’t going to open a laundry. He opened a restaurant. And he opened a restaurant, and the goal of the restaurant was to elevate Chinese culture, Chinese cuisine, to the highest, highest level.

Up to that moment, in England, and anywhere else in the West, Chinese food was really low end. It was cheap food for workers and builders. And he wanted to elevate Chinese cuisine to the highest level, and not just the food, but the environment, and the people who were there.

When he opened that restaurant, the coolest, most fascinating, most brilliant people in London, they all gravitated there. And the same happened in LA. The same happened in New York. And that’s how it’s been for 50 years.

Lauren Conlin:

That is so interesting. I did not know that, for one.

And why should people watch this movie, non-New Yorkers, who might not even know who he is?

Nick Hooker:

Because he’s incredibly entertaining. He’s quite brilliant. And his story, his journey, is completely inspiring. It’s such triumph over tragedy, adversity, difficulty, bigotry, prejudice. And he’s come through, not just triumphant, but full of wisdom, full of wisdom, and full of generosity of spirit. And I think that’s really infectious, and what we need.

Lauren Conlin:

Yeah.

What are you most proud of, in this documentary?

Nick Hooker:

I’m most proud that we were able, he grew up in Shanghai, he left when he was 12, but he was already with the culture of Beijing Opera. His father was the biggest star of Beijing Opera in China. Then suddenly, he’s in London. He captures the ’68, the Beatles, the Stones, the sort of explosion of British culture. And he comes to Hollywood, he comes to Beverly Hills, he comes to New York in 1979, on 57th Street. And each time, he captures the zeitgeist, he captures it in the bottle. And I really wanted to capture every facet- That was really the goal. I feel proud that we managed to do that.

Lauren Conlin:

I’m going to get some takeout from Mr Chow, and watch it. Thank you, so much. Congratulations.

 
MICHAEL CHOW, RESTAURATEUR AND SUBJECT
 
Lauren Conlin:

Congratulations! Could you share with everybody why they should watch this documentary…why they should be interested in your story?

Michael Chow:

I think they will have a better understanding and my proudest discovery: I discovered that all Asian men living in the West are under some sort of fear, and that’s not right. So that has to be overcome.

Lauren Conlin:

Who has been your role model in your life?

Michael Chow:

From day one, my father.

Lauren Conlin:

Your father.

Michael Chow:

And then my mother is contradictory. They’re opposites. So I have the best parents ever. I’m very lucky. And then now, I have my wife who supported me, everything, and I’m in heaven now. Completely, completely.

Lauren Conlin:

 
That’s so nice.
Michael Chow:

I feel so much energy. I feel like I’m younger than her. My spirit is younger. Look at how youthful I am and how complete I am (he chuckles and points to his much younger wife).

Lauren Conlin:

And when you heard they were going to make a documentary about you, what was your reaction?

Michael Chow:

Well, in the beginning, I resisted.

Lauren Conlin:

You did?

Michael Chow:

Yeah, yeah. Then I realized it’s my job to do something, to let people know my life.

Lauren Conlin:

Yes. Okay, I need to know. I tried to recreate this at home. Your chicken satay, I talk about it all the time. It’s the best food I’ve ever eaten in my life. What is in it? I mean, I need to know.

Michael Chow:

Well, it’s an illegal substance (he jokes and laughs)

Lauren Conlin:

It’s crack, right? It’s butter and crack. I don’t even know. It’s so amazing. I can’t even tell you. You can’t tell me one thing? What do you put in that sauce?

Michael Chow:

Yeah, it’s Coca Cola (obviously joking).

Lauren Conlin:

Well, thank you so much. Enjoy your evening. Congratulations.

VICTOR GARBER, ACTOR IN ATTENDANCE

Lauren Conlin:

What are you looking forward to tonight, about  seeing this film?

Victor Garber:

Well, I don’t know the history of this man or his restaurant, but he’s so famous and I’ve never actually eaten there! (bashfully) I know, I know.

Lauren Conlin:

Stop it!

Victor Garber:

No, I know. I know everybody well, because I don’t get out much, but now I will.

Lauren Conlin:

Okay. Can I tell you, the Chicken satay is literally the best thing I’ve ever had. I order six orders to myself.

Victor Garber:

I’ve actually heard that!

Lauren Conlin:

I mean, a lot of people like the peking duck, but the chicken satay is amazing!

Victor Garber:

I would like both!

Lauren Conlin:

Are  you a big documentary fan in general, Victor?

Victor Garber:

Oh yes-  I love, I love documentaries. I go to see as many as I can- I’m addicted.

About author

Articles

Lauren is a New York City based reporter, podcaster and host, with a focus on pop culture news and true crime. She is currently a writer and reporter for Pop Style TV, NickiSwift.com, and Grunge.com. Lauren is also the host and producer of the investigative podcast titled, “Corruption: What Happened to Grant Solomon.” She hopes to reveal the truth behind an alleged cover-up and accidental death of an 18-year-old boy in Tennessee. Lauren is the creator and host of the pop culture, news & crime podcast, “Lauren Interviews.” She has featured interviews with public figures like Joe Exotic, actors like Kyra Sedgwick and Alec Baldwin, plus real housewives like Luann de Lesseps. Lauren previously worked for WABC RADIO, writing news briefs and articles pertaining to entertainment, crime, and politics while also serving as on-air talent. Lauren also hosted a wellness show on WOR Radio in NYC, and then teamed up with 98 Degrees’ Jeff Timmons for a podcast called “Millennials Revealed.” Some true crime highlights in Lauren's orbit: After a woman named Julia Wandelt came forward claiming to be missing child Madeline McCann in 2023, Lauren went viral for getting the first video interview with her spokesperson, Fia Johansson; discussing whether or not a DNA test was underway. Lauren also revealed brand new interviews and information regarding the deaths of actor Brittany Murphy and her husband Simon Monjack in 2020, which lead to her also being featured on VICE TV and Law & Crime. Lauren also made headlines after an exclusive interview with the fiancé of Aaron Carter just days after his tragic death, while also covering Carter’s death as breaking news on Lawrence Jones Cross Country (Fox News). Lauren also reported on the tragic death of Matthew Perry as both breaking news, then as a tribute while on Fox News as a guest. Her interviews and reporting have been covered by People, EW, The Today Show, Perez Hilton, Page Six, Elle Magazine and more.
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