Lawrence Chu was born in Szechwan, China during World War II and lived in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and eventually was raised and educated in Taiwan. By living in these different areas of China, he became familiar with their cuisines. Before coming to the U.S. he lived in Hong Kong for three years. At age 19, he emigrated to the U.S. to join his family, and took a job at Trader Vic’s in San Francisco where he learned American styles of dining and cooking.
After apprenticing in several San Francisco restaurants, he opened Chef Chu’s in nearby Los Altos, as a 12 item take-out restaurant and as it became more popular, he introduced more dishes from the various regions of China. With his name on the door, he wanted to give his patrons that personal touch and Chef Chu’s quickly became “a different kind” of Chinese restaurant, introducing a variety of Chinese vegetables adapted to Chinese and American palates. He traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and in Europe to bring new ideas to his menu.
Great Chefs showed up in 1995 to tape Chef Chu preparing four dishes for their Great Chefs-Great Cities series: Dragon Fish with Sweet & Sour Sauce; Minced Chicken in Lettuce Cups; Spicy Crab Soup, and Szechuan Dry-braised Prawns with Broccoli. Great Chefs also taped Chef James Liou for the same series.
Today, Chef Chu continues to create new dishes, writing a book, “Distinctive Cuisine of China”, conducting cooking classes, leading small culinary groups through China and co-founded the Asian Chefs Association with Great Chef Chris Yeo.