Chinois Asian Bistro debuted in October 2008, as a contemporary Pacific Rim dining concept. Chinois (pronounced as “Shin-wah,” which is French for Chinese) focuses on traditional Chinese and South East Asian cuisine; namely from Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand.
Chef and restaurateur Debbie Shu was raised in the restaurant business, and is very enthusiastic about food. It all began with her being raised in her family’s restaurant. Debbie grew up in Taiwan, but her family ultimately moved to Napa, California. Her father became the famed restaurateur, who owned and operated the Mandarin Chinese Restaurant on Trancas Street. Growing up in this family business produced a daughter destined to also own and operate her own restaurant Chinois Asian Bistro, partnering with her chef brother-in-law, and Master Sommelier Chang Liow.
As a youngster, Debbie was part of her family’s business, where she would work every day after school. She wasn’t assigned to the kitchen; that was her father’s job. She did, however, help with table service and doing the dishes. As Debbie best describes it, “There were no free handouts. Our family business was truly our family business.”
She graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor of Science degree, and then decided to attend the California Culinary Academy (CCA), an affiliate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in San Francisco. She received intensive studies in all of the culinary arts, graduating in 2004, with her Culinary Chef’s Degree in Hospitality, Baking, and Pastry. Debbie notes that it was very scientific and thorough, and gave her the solid base and confidence she needed to open her own restaurant, with her brother-in-law Chang.
Debbie’s philosophy is that she wants to share the foods that she grew up with, delivering both sustenance and comfort… foods that come from all over the Asian world, not just one regional cuisine.
Chang Liow was born and raised in Singapore. Coming from two different Asian countries, Debbie and Chang both share the nostalgic memories of meals cooked by their grandparents, with recipes still kept within the family. They both have an appreciation for local street vendors, who served foods that were simple with no frills, but were filled with explosive flavors.
Since migrating to the US, he has returned to his native country to work, as well as having traveled abroad in Asia. His mission was to seek out the best authentic food within each country. His passion for good, simple food came naturally, as he grew up in family restaurant businesses. Chang came from a family of chefs who owned and ran restaurants in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
His concept for Chinois was to fuse high quality produce and meats that are easily accessible in Sonoma County, with traditional Asian spices and family recipes, using cooking techniques passed down over the generations. He believes that the most effective diplomacy anyone can extend to break cultural barriers is to prepare a great meal from his or her country.
His love for food intertwines with his love for wines. Chang is a certified Sommelier with the Guild of Master Sommelier, and a wine judge for the annual West Coast Wine Competition in California.